RICARDO Santos is timing his run to top form just right, says Wanderers boss Ian Evatt.

The big defender had a comparatively slow start to pre-season but showed in Tuesday afternoon’s game against Watford that he had shaken off any rustiness from last season’s hamstring lay-off.

Santos sat out the last few weeks of the campaign through injury and Evatt reckons that contributed to him taking a little longer to hit his best condition.

Now, with two friendlies remaining before the League One kick-off at Ipswich, the Bolton boss believes his captain is getting back to his best

“Rico’s a big guy, he’s six foot five, and you have to give him some time to get some momentum and the reason why he’s been playing more consistently the back end of pre-season is to get him in to a rhythm and we’re starting to see the fruits of that rhythm now,” he said.

“His fitness is excellent, his base fitness is excellent. We also have to remember that he missed the last part of last season so he’s playing catchup a little bit with everyone else, so give him some leeway!

"We saw the real Rico against Watford and I thought he was outstanding.”

Evatt is also encouraged that Santos is growing into the skipper’s role he inherited a third of the way into last season.

It was hoped by handing him the armband last October that his influence on the team would improve.

Santos signed a new three-year contract in the summer, committing himself to Wanderers, and is now becoming the figurehead that Evatt wanted him to be.

“It is developing all the time, it really is,” he said of the defender’s captaincy skills.

“Rico is a fantastic player and a fantastic person, and we have got some really good people now in the dressing room.

“They are a joy to work with every day.”

Meanwhile, former Wanderers striker Mitch Henry - released at the University of Bolton Stadium at the end of last season - has now been picked up by North West Counties League side Irlam.

Henry played five senior games for Wanderers, all in the Papa John's Trophy, making his debut in the 3-2 win against Newcastle United's Under-21s in November 2020.