IAN Evatt has challenged his battle-scarred Wanderers to prove they can be one of League One’s ‘elite’ with a result against Peterborough United today.

Having suffered a sudden run of injuries in the past fortnight, and without the suspended Eoin Toal, the Whites may have to draft in B Team youngsters to fill their bench against promotion-chasing Posh at the Toughsheet Stadium.

Evatt and his side took plenty of criticism following a wasteful 90 minutes in front of goal against Reading last time out – but showed against Derby County in their last home league game that they can mix it with the best sides in this division.

A crowd of more than 20,000 is expected this afternoon, which ramps up the pressure on Bolton to perform. And though he may be missing some key men, Evatt is adamant that his team are not far away from hitting their stride.

“I think the performance against Derby was excellent, one of our best in the big games against direct rivals,” he said. “I think we have shown we can turn up in front of big crowds, obviously, Plymouth at Wembley was unbelievable as well, but Derby was probably the game I have been most pleased with, so far. But it can be even better.

“If we had been 4-0 up on Saturday, which could have happened, it isn’t me living in a dream world, our XG was over three, we could have done that. People would have been saying ‘wow, you’re flying’ and we would have been top of the league with a game in hand. There wouldn’t have been the negativity that we have experienced.

“But football doesn’t work that way, usually, it doesn’t run smoothly. You have to accept there will be moments of adversity and overcome them.

“We have to replicate a lot of what we did against Reading but put the finishing touches to it. We want to dominate the game with and without the ball – and there were spells on Saturday where we did one, not the other.

“We just need to work hard to put it all together. What we are trying to do is elite. It is top level stuff. That is what we are trying to be.

“We are not there, yet, but that is what we are aspiring to be.”

Evatt maintains that while his side has yet to produce a ‘complete’ performance this season, even including the win against Derby, he is happy with the number of goalscoring opportunities being created.

Only today’s opponents Peterborough average more shots on goal per game than Wanderers and, on average, no team in League One has put more on target.

Questions have been posed about the depth and quality of Wanderers’ attacking options, particularly if Charles succumbs to a shoulder injury picked up at Reading. But Evatt remains 100 per cent behind his squad.

“I will always back our players because I do believe in all of them,” he said. “The crucial thing for me is that we created really good chances at Reading.

“Now, last season, people said about our goalscoring, but we were not creating the same sort of chances we are creating this season. These are gilt-edged, critical chances, and I believe the players we have will take them more often than they don’t.

“The Reading game should have been three or four in the first half, then Dion Charles missed a critical one in the second half, and that can happen in a game.

“For me, it was that we could and should have done more to at least gain a point. Goals do happen, goals from long distance can happen, and that affected the momentum of the game, but the crucial part is that we are creating the chances to win games. And we will win them.”