RICARDO Santos has been backed to flourish as captain of Wanderers despite being plunged in at the deep end.

The abrupt departure of previous skipper Antoni Sarcevic a fortnight ago left a void in the dressing room, filled quickly by the appointment of Santos as the new leader of the pack.

Evatt hopes the extra responsibility will bring even more out of the big defender but accepts that he may need time to adjust.

Sarcevic was ushered out of the door in extraordinary fashion, having featured in every League One game of the season. He will return this weekend in the colours of Stockport County in the FA Cup first round.

But the Bolton boss believes Santos is the better bet, long term, and reckons the job will improve him as a player.

“It was probably a shock to everyone how things developed so quickly,” Evatt told The Bolton News.

“I have said enough on it – but I will say again that the decisions I take are for the best interests of this football club. That’s that.

“It has been sprung on him and he may take some time to settle in, find his own way of being a leader.

“I think leadership is a personality thing, and I think I have chosen one with the right personality.

“I was a captain for every club I played for and I’ve now been a successful manager so I know what a captain should look like.

“Rico, for me, is that guy. He needs to step into it.”

Will Aimson said earlier this week that there were players waiting in the wings to take on more responsibility in the wake of Sarcevic’s exit.

Evatt hopes that some of his younger players will also accept the challenge to become leaders within the group.

“What we want to do is develop players, not just technically, but as people as well,” he said.

“We need to make sure they step into these leadership roles and go about things the right way. I think you need to be able to lead in lots of different ways and I believe the lads have got that in them.

“The materials are there, it is just a case of stepping into it and growing.”

Sarcevic had been Bolton’s captain since Evatt’s first competitive game in charge and though others, including Eoin Doyle and Santos, have worn the armband in his absence over the last 15 months, there remain question marks over how his dramatic departure will affect the group dynamic.

Though there are no ready made replacements within his ranks, Evatt believes there are capable leaders waiting to emerge.

“Some lead with their voice, some lead with their actions, some by communicating with people one-to-one, educating them,” he said. “We have a mixture in this group but it is an area of the squad that needs to improve, no doubt about it.

“We have got some younger players and some not-so-young ones who have to take that leadership role on themselves, not wait for a spark from someone else but be the person to provide it at the start of a game.

“Making tackles, making the pass, winning the first duel, they are all things that add up to good leadership.

“But I think for now it is about focussing on who we are, the brand and identity that we have worked very hard to build. We need to stick to our beliefs because results will come.”