IAN Evatt is backing his captain Ricardo Santos against a striker he feels is among the best in League One tomorrow.

Peterborough United’s Jonson Clarke-Harris has scored 45 goals in his previous two seasons and grabbed five in his first five starts this term.

But Bolton boss Evatt believes centre-back Santos, who has been part of the division’s joint-meanest defence over the first eight games, is starting to find his very best form after a few injury issues.

“It’s a great challenge for Rico because he’s a very good player,” Evatt said. “He (Clarke-Harris) is one of the best strikers in the league, but I believe Rico to be one of the best centre backs in the league, so it’s a great match-up and a great challenge.

“I have complete trust and faith in Rico and I’m really pleased that he’s now starting to find the form that we all know he’s capable of. Huge amount of belief in him and I’m sure Rico will see it as a great challenge.” Bolton’s defensive record – which has seen them concede just six times in the league so far – is matched only by Portsmouth.

Evatt concentrated on improving his team’s pressing game over the summer and believes it has resulted in fewer scoring chances for opposing players.

“It isn’t just down to the goalkeeper and the defenders,” he said of the defensive record. “It is down to the team as a unit.

“I think we defend as a team and I’ve said this many times that our strikers not just are required to score goals but they are required to press aggressively from the front which keeps the pressure off the back lads as well.

“The law of averages says the higher you regain the ball, the less likely and the less chances the opposition is going to create anything because our goal is miles away back there, so that’s what we’re trying to do and it’s a team effort and they should all take credit from that. Not just the defenders and the back lads, and likewise when we’re scoring goals the other end.

“I don’t see us scoring scrappy goals, everything is built, created, worked on, so whatever we do we need to celebrate as a team, defensively and offensively. We do things together.”