IAN Evatt has laid down a challenge to new signing Xavier Amaechi to hit the new League One campaign firing on all cylinders.

The former Arsenal winger, on loan from Hamburg, made his first appearance in a Bolton shirt on Saturday as the Whites beat Longridge Town 3-1.

Amaechi featured for the whole second half but Evatt believes the 20-year-old is still way behind the fitness levels of the rest of the squad – and hopes hard work on the training ground this month will get him to where he needs to be for the big kick-off against MK Dons in August.

“The issue Xav has is that he’s nowhere near fit enough yet,” admitted the Bolton boss. “He is going to need the whole of pre-season to get to where we think he can be.

“Out of all the group he is probably the furthest behind, from being at Hamburg and where he has been at, so he will be tired, he is going to fatigue, but I promise he will see the benefits of all the hard work he is putting in this pre-season.”

Amaechi played only a handful of games for Hamburg since a £2.5million switch from the Emirates in July 2019. Another loan at Karlsruhe failed to bring many more first team games, which left the midfielder looking to kickstart his promising career back at Bolton on loan.

“He hasn’t played much football for 18 months,” Evatt said. “He went out on loan and didn’t play much and I think it’s a different game here. “The speed and intensity of the game and what we ask of those players, the wide forwards, is tough. It is physically demanding, and he needs to get used to it. But he will.” Evatt was pleased with his side’s first pre-season outing, even though the afternoon proved frustrating for long spells, with plenty of missed opportunities.

Wanderers fell behind to the non-league men in the first half and though Evatt was pleased with the way his defenders used the ball, he felt some pre-season rustiness was exploited for the Longridge goal.

“We recruit players that can handle the ball,” he said. “That is us as a team, we need to do that. The slight disappointment is I think we were a bit naive. “Gethin (Jones) was probably fouled but he tried to stay on his feet. If he goes to ground, he probably gets a free kick. Then our marking in the box, even though all half we were spent in their half, the one time we had to mark in the box, we didn’t.

“We need to improve with that - but we haven’t had chance to work on those type of things in training yet. “We are a week into the football work really and they have worked tirelessly hard. “Even at half-time you’ve seen them running and the lads running again after the game because it’s important to get minutes and energy into the legs long term. For now, it is about fitness, working hard, and staying fully fit and focused for what’s to come.”