Ian Evatt reckons Wanderers could rightly lay claim to being promotion contenders if they can keep a place in the top 10 this week.

Faced with a trip to MK Dons tonight and a home game against Peterborough United on Saturday, Bolton will have taken on most of the division’s heavy hitters by the end of the month.

Evatt has largely kept targets close to his chest this season but looked ahead to the next two games as a real marker of progress.

“Come the end of September I think it will be a really good guide as to where we are. If we can be in the top 10, not the top six, then I think we will be well-poised,” he said.

“We have had some difficult games. We are one of only a couple of teams to have taken points off Ipswich, we have beaten Wycombe – two teams that I think people will expect to be up there – and then lost to Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday.

“This next two games are against teams that, again, you expect them to be in and around the promotion spots. It will be a pretty good guide, I think.”

MK were one of the favourites for promotion before a ball was kicked, having gone so close last season, but have struggled for consistency over the first seven games.

Asked whether he expected Liam Manning’s men to be challenging in May, Evatt expects the promotion race to be wider than ever.

“Who knows? There are probably 10-12 teams who fancy their chances of being in that top six and it is anyone’s guess as to how that looks,” he said.

“You have the ones like Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday who have spent ridiculous and ginormous sums of money, so the pressure will be pretty much all on them.

“The others are all in a pool. There will be ups and downs for everyone. I don’t think the points needed will be the same as last year, I think that was a freak. Mid-seventies will probably get top six this season, so that is what we have to target.”

Wanderers lost 2-0 on their last visit to Stadium:MK with the Dons widely praised for their performance on the day. Evatt maintains that his side did not hit the level he expected.

“They (MK) were impressive for the first half an hour but I think we got it massively wrong with our pressing strategy,” he said. “The one thing we have improved upon massively this season is our work out of possession and I think come Tuesday MK will see a different animal.

“We hit the bar, Baka had a great chance, and it was all us until we gifted them a second goal. So as much as they were very good for that opening half an hour, I did feel the result was self-inflicted, to a large extent.

“We have learned and improved a great deal since then, so we are looking forward to it.”