Ian Evatt is pleased with how Conor Bradley’s first taste of League One football went – and backs the youngster to be a big player for Wanderers this season.

The Northern Ireland international played 90 minutes as the Whites kicked off the new campaign with a 1-1 draw against Ipswich at Portman Road.

Bradley was a main target for Evatt during the January window, and the Bolton chief reckons regular football will have a big impact on the youngster’s development.

“I thought he was excellent,” he said. “I think it was a real big test for him. I think physically now he’ll understand the demands now of playing in that position for us.

“Second half we got into some really good crossing positions and we just needed him to make that back post, but the physical energy that it takes to relentlessly do that is really challenging.

“He’s going to improve immensely playing regular football with us this season and we’re delighted to have him.”

Evatt’s men went in front through Aaron Morley’s penalty midway through the first half, which was won by Bradley.

“He’s the penalty taker and it was a really clinical penalty,” the manager added. “Almost like Harry Kane where you pick your spot, and he hit it well enough.

“The keeper is going to have to take a huge gamble to try and get there so I was delighted with that finish.”

However, the hosts got back on level terms before half-time when Lee Evans fired home after a corner routine.

“There was a block which worked Evans free in the first place and then there was also a blocker in front of James Trafford, which didn’t really have any eyes on the ball,” the manager explained.

“We were just trying to stop him and the defender around him. It’s a well worked set piece routine from them, but we can’t complain.

“We try and work blocks and similar things. A suckerpunch because I think at that point we had complete control.”

Around 1,400 Bolton fans made the long journey to Portman Road to watch their side get the new season underway, and Evatt is grateful for the support.

“Me and Kieran (McKenna) spoke at length before the game,” he added. “They respect us and we respect them and it was almost a bit of a waste first game of the season for us to play each other.

“We both want to be full tilt when we play against each other and I think you’ll see a really good game of football, but I thought at times it was really high quality. At times not so good.

“But a massive thanks to our supporters who in the middle of a train strike to travel the distance they did in their numbers, they sang their hearts out for us and really helped us gain that point.”