IAN Evatt admits he won’t know how far his Wanderers have progressed until the first ball is kicked in anger against Ipswich Town at the end of the month.

Despite some encouraging pre-season performances, the latest of which saw the Whites beat relegated Premier League side Watford, Evatt is still focussed on improvement between now and the start of the League One season.

Two friendlies remain – one against Carlisle United, the next against Huddersfield Town – before the real business begins at Portman Road.

Speaking after Kieran Lee and Dapo Afolayan’s goals won an entertaining game at Colney, Evatt is looking forward to seeing what comes next.

“I don’t know whether we are there yet, is the answer,” he said. “I think we are progressing, I think we are doing well, and are streets ahead of where we were last year.

“But only when the football season kicks off will we have any true gauge as to where we really are.”

Wanderers finished last season strongly, losing just three games from the middle of January onwards, but it was not enough to force their way into the play-off picture.

The hope among Bolton supporters is that having kept star players like Dapo Afolayan and Ricardo Santos and bedded down many of the new recruits from the winter window, that the team can continue in the same vein.

“I think the momentum has carried on, in general,” Evatt observed. “We lost a game on Saturday and everyone who was there will tell you we played really well but it was one of those days that we are capable of having where we lose it despite being pleased with the performance.

“I want to cut that out this season. Football is a tough game and I want to see more ugly wins at times alongside all that attractive football that we are capable of playing.”

Watford fielded a strong side on Tuesday afternoon in a game played behind closed doors because recent concerts held at Vicarage Road meant the pitch had to be re-laid.

But the team containing Ismaila Sarr, Pedro Joao and new signing Vakoun Bayo failed to break through, much to the delight of the Bolton boss.

“Watford have some great players and Rob, who is a good friend of mine, I hope does well because he is a really talented coach,” Evatt said.

“When you are on the football pitch you can’t play reputations, it is man against man. You win your battle and then try to express yourself in possession.”