IAN Evatt has put his full backing behind the young players tasked with taking Wanderers to the play-offs.

The Bolton boss has faith that Shola Shoretire, Luke Mbete, Conor Bradley, James Trafford, Aaron Morley and Co can keep the club fighting in the top six over the last nine games of the regular campaign.

Over the last few weeks Evatt has named his three youngest starting line-ups since taking charge of the club two-and-a-half years ago.

The team that started against Port Vale on February 25 averaged just 23.6 years, while subsequent line-ups against Ipswich and Wycombe average a slightly increased 23.7.

Wanderers have taken one point from the last nine available and dropped to sixth spot in the table but Evatt remains confident that his squad will find answers in the coming weeks, and has backed his youngsters to respond to the doubters who have emerged.

“Within our four walls, and myself included, we need to keep belief, keep focus and stay confident that we can do what’s required,” he told The Bolton News. “We have to concentrate on our performances and being hard working on the training pitch and we’ll ride out this dip, I have no doubt about it.

“It is a great experience for them (the younger players). Shola coming up against Samy Morsy, within 15-20 minutes, having a busted lip and face, it is part of the learning curve.

“But we need them to learn, we need them to improve, and I am sure they will.”

Wanderers are likely to keep faith with Dion Charles as their penalty taker after he had one saved by Ipswich keeper Christian Walton at the weekend.

It was only the Northern Ireland international’s second spot kick miss of his career, the previous one having come for Accrington Stanley in a 4-3 win against Lincoln City in February 2020.

Evatt admits it was a turning point in the game, feeling that had the penalty gone in his side would have had the momentum to claim all three points against the Tractor Boys.

“There is nothing I need to say to Dion, he hasn’t deliberately missed. It just happens,” he said.

“It was a really key moment in the game. We had control, we had momentum and we’d won the penalty and if it had gone in then I think the stadium would have lifted, the players would have lifted, chests puff out and confidence is high. I think we go again and probably go on to win it.

“Kieran (McKenna) would admit that, we just had a conversation in the lift on the way up.

“But what it did was the complete opposite. It lifted their fans and their players and completely sapped the life out of the stadium and our team. Games are won and lost on those moments and we lost it again today.”