The more cynical supporter might say confusion and turmoil is all part of the fun at Bolton Wanderers – but Ian Evatt hopes chaos can work in his favour this week.

Faced with games against two of League One’s real heavyweights in MK Dons and Peterborough United, the Bolton boss has looked for ways to give his players an extra edge in what are likely to be tight, tactical affairs.

Rather than concentrate on the technical, controlled aspects of team shape on the training ground at Lostock, he has thrown in some attacking and defensive scenarios which took his players out of their comfort zone.

And by adding that air of unpredictability to his normally meticulous preparation, Evatt believes his side might react better in the pressure cooker atmosphere of a matchday.

The manager explained: “A lot of our training is structured and we are giving the players a lot of instruction on what is required in and out of possession, the patterns of play, what we are trying to achieve out of possession, where we want the ball funnelled into, how we keep it there, how aggressive we need to be on the high regains – all that is structured and can be broken down into detail.

“But those moments are chaos. How do you coach that?

“We have had a pretty good go at it this week, actually. We have manufactured a lot of different scenarios and created chaos in both boxes, so hopefully with that practice we can replicate better defensive structure and ideas in those moments, and likewise in the final third.

“Everything is practice and repetition but it is difficult to re-create the most chaotic moments, and they are the ones we have struggled with in the two games we have lost in the league.”

Evatt pointed to the home defeat against Sheffield Wednesday as an example of where his side became unravelled for a brief moment, costing them dearly.

“I think Sheffield Wednesday was dead on five minutes from Conor Bradley missing that chance to us being 2-0 down,” he said. “The game was won and lost in that five minutes of chaos.

“As much as we have a clear idea and structure, work on specific things, we have tried this week to work on a bit more chaos to get some real practice. We’ll see how it benefits us.”

MK lost in the play-off semi-finals last season having finished just a point behind Rotherham United, missing out on an automatic promotion spot.

That meant difficulty retaining their best players for this season, and with 14 new players, Liam Manning’s side has made an inconsistent start.

Nevertheless, Evatt won’t read too much into his opponents’ recent form, nor does he see it as an advantage to meet them early on in the season.

“If you are going to challenge in this division you will have to beat everyone somewhere down the line so, personally, it is irrelevant to me whether they are bedded in or not,” he said.

“It is still a difficult game and we know they will look the same and try to do the same things as they did last season.

“Obviously when you lose Parrott, Darling, Twine, that is a huge loss to any football club. They have signed some very good players to replace them and they might need some time to settle down but we have to pay them full respect because they are a very, very good team.

“We need to put in the same sort of performance that we did against Charlton where we are on the front foot, we are aggressive, full of energy and play well on transition, which you always need to do at MK.”

Saturday’s postponement provided an unexpected opportunity to work with his players but will also mean a game rescheduled for midweek later in the season. With the Portsmouth fixture also likely to be rearranged for international call-ups, Evatt says the club will simply have to deal with the two-game weeks when they come along.

“It is par for the course and we all know it will happen at some stage of the season,” he added.

“We had a pandemic, we have lost a Queen, things happen in life that cause disruption. It is about how you adapt and overcome.

“It gave us an opportunity to bed down some work on the training ground and hopefully that will come to fruition on Tuesday night now.”