IAN Evatt is backing Gethin Jones to come back stronger after serving a three-game ban.

The Wanderers defender will be available for selection against Manchester United’s Under-21s in the EFL Trophy tonight but will then be side-lined until October 21, when the Whites are scheduled to face Northampton Town at home.

Vice-captain Jones has been a staple part of Evatt’s side for the last three seasons but a red card in the first half of Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Peterborough United came at a time when the defender’s form has also been questioned in some quarters.

Evatt accepts that Jones – and others – are now going to have to roll up their sleeves.

“Being a football player, being involved in this industry, it isn’t always sunshine – you will have to face some dark spells and some adversity,” he told The Bolton News. “At some time you’ll lose form, you will lose confidence, and you have to overcome it and go again.

“There are a few players at the moment who are having a less consistent spell than we have seen from them in the past. That is part of the game and they have to get through it.

“This is going to be a challenging time. Geth is out for three games, there are going to be people coming in to take his place and try to make it their own.

“I thought Will Forrester was absolutely brilliant on Saturday, so as I said last week, when you give people opportunities you can sometimes unearth talents, as we did with Eoin Toal last season. I think there will be opportunities now for people to play.”

With Evatt’s options severely limited by injuries and suspensions for the next few weeks, the Bolton boss is looking to tonight’s EFL Trophy match and a three-game run of league fixtures as a significant test of his players’ character and resolve.

“We are tested, we are challenged, physically,” he said. “The players just have to get their heads down and graft now for this spell before the international break. I think they did that on Saturday against Peterborough, a lot of hard work went into that point in the end.

“We need to manage this spell because once we get past that break then we will be in a much, much better place. For now, it is about picking up points and staying in touch with the teams at the very top.

“We are not too far away now and if we win the game in hand I think we’re a point away from where I believe we should be aiming, i.e. two points a game.

“We need to get to that point and then really get our heads down. This squad, I think, is capable of putting a real extended run of results together. That is our aim and focus.

“We have to manage ourselves right now, stay competitive, and the players who have faced a bit of adversity – Geth, etc – I will back them to come out the other side. They have never let this team down, never let this club down in the past, so we have to support them through the bad times and then hopefully they can get back to where we think they can get to at the end of it.”