IAN Evatt believes his Wanderers side will be up against it to prepare for a Papa John’s Trophy clash at Hartlepool on Tuesday night.

After pushing Rotherham United to the bitter end on New Year’s Day, Bolton now have a knockout cup game to prepare for at Victoria Park.

Evatt is hoping to bring in one new signing on Monday to boost his options and may call on Alex Baptiste, Liam Gordon, Harry Brockbank and Amadou Bakayoko, who all started on the bench on Saturday.

MJ Williams could also return from illness and new signing Dion Charles could feature, having not previously played in the competition for Accrington.

But the Wanderers boss admits the after-effects of Covid are still painfully evident in the squad and he remains unconvinced that they should have been forced to play at Rotherham. “We’re going through a tough spell and the next week to 10 days is going to be really tough getting these players recovered and ready to go again, especially for Tuesday night,” he said.

“I think every single one of them more or less had cramp there. We had the training ground shut until Monday, so it was tough and they’re all different symptoms. Some have suffered heavily with exercise and elite sport, some not so.

“This is my argument. We can’t be so rigid with our rule making. We’ve said all along that when a certain amount of bodies are fit and in the building, then they have to play and make sure you take the game. It’s not as easy as that, we’re playing elite sport here.

“It’s physical, it’s tough, it’s intense. If it was office work where you can be sat down and resting, it’s a lot easier.

“We’re playing very good level and this is a really tough place to come. It couldn’t have got any tougher for our boys today and I just wish we could get a little bit of common sense and a little bit of help, but that’s gone now and it’s finished with.

“The one positive is more or less every one of us has had it so we’re not really going to really suffer with the old group moving forwards for the rest of the season.”

Evatt was pleased with the application of his side at Rotherham, given everything that had gone before.

“I’m proud of my football club today,” he said after the final whistle. “I’m obviously disappointed with the result but I’m proud of the players and their performance and their energy.

“We speak about quality and technical aspects and tactics a lot at the moment. This is the nature of football and how it’s developed over the years. But we’re now at the stage of football where people are actually praising hard work and work ethic, but that’s a given in football and I don’t know when that became a praise and not just expected.

“Our players today were proud to wear that shirt. They fought for every ball, for every duel, and in the condition they were all in it was a magnificent effort, but we know that winning games at this football club is expected. We’re disappointed to lose the game but it’s a great reminder that we can be competitive regardless of where we’re at and at what condition and there’s lots and lots of points to play for in the second half of the season.”

Evatt also gave his makeshift midfield of Nathan Delfouneso, George Thomason and George Johnston a pat on the back for their efforts at the New York Stadium.

“Nathan was playing out of position,” he said. “We had one midfield player in George who is a very, very young player and still learning his trade. Then you’ve got George Johnston who is a centre half by trade and Nathan who is a centre forward making up a midfield three against three of their very good midfield players who are all energy, all action, but I thought they did a great job.

“Obviously, we want to be better with the ball and in possession, but today was a day for just rolling up your sleeves, getting your head down and working as hard as you possibly can and that almost got us a result and arguably deserved to.”