WANDERERS are working hard to bridge the gap between the academy and the first team, says Ian Evatt.

With a reserve team being re-introduced this season, the Whites hope there will be a better pathway for players to emerge from the youth team into senior football.

Players within the academy system are now being given access to the same data analysis as first teamers and via coaches Dave Gardner, Mark Litherland and Sam Hird, are being encouraged to play the same style of football as Evatt’s men.

The long-term plan, says the Wanderers boss, is to improve the chances of homegrown players coming through the system.

“We want the academy and the first team to be playing the same way, doing the same things,” he said. “The standard and intensity will increase throughout the age groups and then up to the first team, but they should all have the understanding of what’s required and what’s expected.

“The youth team now will have access to our analytics, our player data, our player clips, so they can show our young players what Gethin Jones does at right-back, what his specific movements are, where he runs and then they have to try and mirror that, because when their opportunity comes and arises, they have to be used to what we expect and what we require as a first team.

“All that work is happening, it is not a quick fix, it is not an overnight thing, it is going to take time, but eventually we will have academy players that are being developed and played and trained the right way, the correct way, the Bolton Wanderers way, and we’ll have them ready for our first team.”

Evatt was front and centre for Tuesday night’s Wanderers XI game at Chorley and intends to be pitch-side again for next Wednesday night’s game at Chester.

The Bolton boss believes having regular games in the Central League this term will give him a chance to better monitor progress of the younger players.

“With the young players, our biggest challenge is to bridge the gap between academy and first team,” he said. “At the moment, the first team is accelerating in one direction and the academy needs to be travelling at that same speed.

“We need to make sure that once they leave that academy process, they come up to us and they know what to expect, they know what’s required. They understand the intensity we train at and play at, and tactically and technically what’s expected.

“At the moment that’s not the case but there’s lots of hard work with Dave Gardner and Mark Litherland and myself and Sam Hird which will bridge that gap between the first team and the reserves/B team/under-23s - whatever you want to call it, will have a big part to play in that.”