IAN Evatt believes his younger players are now making a concerted push for a spot in his first team plans.

The Wanderers boss has been impressed with the likes of Adam Senior and Ronan Darcy since his players returned for pre-season and believes they are benefitting from higher standards on the training ground.

Both Senior and Darcy were left without regular football last season as plans to play development team friendlies and organise loans elsewhere were dented by the pandemic.

The lack of an Under-23s team left a handful of Wanderers’ younger players in a similar situation but with Sam Hird set to take charge of a reserve team in the Central League this season, it is hoped the progression from Under-18s to senior level will be improved.

“The standard of our training group has improved ten-fold since I came to the club,” Evatt told The Bolton News. “We have bought in a better quality of player so the standard then improves. And the good thing about the younger players this summer is that they haven’t looked out of place, which is great.”

The Bolton News:

Senior scored for his hometown club in last season’s EFL Trophy and returned for pre-season in impressive physical shape.

“Adam Senior is developing as fast as anybody at the moment,” Evatt said. “He’s starting to get stronger physically, he’s aggressive and he trains more aggressively than anybody and I love that about him. He wants to win in every five a side and every small-sided game.”

Darcy gained plenty of experience in Wanderers’ last stint in League One but dropped to the fringes of the squad in the second half of last season.

He too has caught the manager’s eye this summer with some energetic performances.

“Ronan physically has developed from last season and he’s done well pre-season but he knows he is in a highly competitive area of the pitch,” Evatt added.

George Thomason was last season’s success story, progressing quickly from a player loaned out to Bamber Bridge, to one commanding a regular spot in Evatt’s side.

There is great debate among Bolton fans on whether Dennis Politic could follow a similar path this season after completing his recovery from a serious knee injury.

Evatt is confident the winger can grasp the defensive discipline he will need to hold down a place in his system but believes it will take time for him to get completely up to speed after such a long time on the sidelines.

“Dennis has got talent, there’s no two ways about that, and he can do things that other people can’t,” the manager said. “But we need to improve his tactical understanding and that is part of his progression.

“Some players get it quicker than others, so we’ll work with Dennis.

“We will keep doing the physical work with him. We will keep educating him, and once we get that side of things into his game, then he’s going to be a real threat for oppositions in League One.”