IAN Evatt says he will not over-react to Matt Gilks “off-day” against MK Dons.

The Wanderers keeper came in for criticism for his performance in the League One opener with some supporters questioning if he was physically ready to play the game after a fragmented pre-season.

Gilks was one of the Bolton players who had missed a chunk of the summer because of Covid, playing only 45 minutes for the first team at FC United.

Joel Dixon could come in for tonight’s Carabao Cup game against Barnsley as Evatt looks to freshen his side with Saturday’s trip to AFC Wimbledon in mind.

But longer-term he believes last season’s promotion hero Gilks will come good.

“That’s football, it is fickle in nature and people are entitled to opinions,” he said of the criticism which came the 39-year-old’s way.

“But football fans in general have very short memories and I have said this to the players. They did fantastically well last season but the minute you kick a ball in League One it is forgotten and you are judged on the here and now.

“Matt had an off day on Saturday but he is allowed to have an off day. He played fantastically well for this football club and he will again in the future. Players have off days and when goalkeepers do it gets highlighted but he doesn’t deserve all that criticism, some of it was uncalled for.

“We will back him and I know he will be back because he’s a fantastic player, a fantastic character and Bolton are very lucky to have him.”

Dixon had featured prominently in the friendly games, with Evatt insisting a few weeks ago that neither he nor Gilks could be automatically considered first choice.

That remains the case – and the Bolton boss explained his decision to start with the former Scotland international against MK was down to his greater experience.

“The decision will be made on who is doing the job required,” he said of the keeper battle. “But Matt has earned the right to play on Saturday. He is a fantastic goalkeeper and for many people he was the player of the year last season.

“Not just that, but the voice on the pitch was also vital, especially when Rico wasn’t in there, who is used to the system, the way we play, and he is a leader.

“I thought it was important we had Eoin Doyle and Matt on the pitch for experience purposes because they have been through big games before, played in front of big crowds, and they can manage it.

“Matt has my full backing and support. He is a fantastic goalkeeper and he will go on to prove that again, I have no doubts.”

Criticism of Gilks was largely confined to social media, which Evatt joked was unlikely to reach its intended target.

“He’s that much of a dinosaur I don’t think he has got Twitter anyway. He won’t have seen much of it,” he said.

“But he is entitled to have an off day. He is an experienced keeper and he will have had them in the past, he’ll have them again, but he knows how to deal with it and he has my full support.”

To listen to Ian Evatt discuss Matt Gilks' form and why he and Alex Baptiste are so important to his Wanderers side, click the play button below.