RICARDO Santos hailed a gutsy performance from Wanderers in victory against Shrewsbury and warned League One: “We are getting better!”

The big defender was instrumental in a resolute second-half display in which a jaded Bolton defended a two-goal lead given to them by Antoni Sarcevic and Dapo Afolayan.

Wanderers were not at their free-flowing best but Santos – who returned with the squad from Charlton at 5am on Wednesday morning and was still feeling the effects – reckons there is plenty more to come.

“The gaffer said that a couple of the lads’ legs were going a bit after a couple of long trips but hopefully we can get a bit of rest in and then go again for Sheffield Wednesday,” he said. “It is hard, especially with kids. Watching Big Bunny at six in the morning.

“But I am enjoying it at the moment, so is the whole team.

“We are happy where we are in the table but we know we could have won the game at Sunderland. Performances have been good, we just need to keep adding goals and rolling teams over because we are getting better.

“I think if we gave it a real go, we would climb even higher up the table.”

Santos was pleased with the defensive performance with the exception of the last five minutes of the game when he was penalised for deliberate handball on the edge of his own penalty box, thinking that the referee’s assistant had flagged a Shrewsbury player offside.

Luke Leahy scored from the resulting free-kick – but the Bolton defender was still annoyed by the decision as he spoke to the press.

“I’m happy to get the three points but the only problem was their goal and the free kick,” he said. “There was a lot of confusion because I saw the linesman flag, put my hands on the ball and thought ‘let me start again’ and then the ref blew. It’s unlucky.

“I think we played well the first 10-15 minutes but after that we took our foot off the gas.

“We knew it would be tough and we’d have to defend well but we knew we could break on them and score goals.”

Santos also revealed there was another half-time rollocking for the Wanderers players after they failed to take full advantage of their momentum in the first half at 2-0 up.

“There was – I think he thought we could have gone on and got a few more goals. It didn’t work out. He definitely told us,” the defender said.

“We accept it because he has high standards and believes in attacking, getting as many goals as possible. He felt we were trying to play around a bit but in the second half we tried to get out there and do something.”