IAN Evatt has backed Gethin Jones to prove his critics wrong at Wanderers.

The former Everton defender was back in the side for the 2-1 win against Northampton Town on Saturday after serving a three-game suspension but has been run down in some quarters for his performances in the first quarter of the season.

Will Forrester’s impact since signing from Port Vale created some debate as to whether Jones would slip immediately back into Evatt’s plans.

But the Bolton boss says he has been puzzled by the reaction of some and has called on fans to get behind the 28-year-old vice-captain.

“I honestly don’t get the criticism that Gethin gets – I think it is harsh,” he told The Bolton News.

“He has been a fabulous servant for this club and he has grown with it over the last three to four years. He gives it everything.

“People are allowed to have the occasional off day. If he played well all the time, he wouldn’t be here, and it would be a boring game.

“He has been excellent for us and he is a great person, so during the rough times he needs support. We will back him and give him everything he needs to do well for this football club.”

Explaining his decision to use Jones on the right side of his back three against Northampton, Evatt added: “The type of team they are – very forward thinking and have four athletic forwards and play a system which has caused us problems in the past, 4-2-3-1.

“The way we play, I wanted that athleticism to defend the duels in the wide areas especially, and Gethin and Toally are extremely quick, as is Rico, so we could cope with the ball in behind and into the channels.

“I think that all worked really well, we just weren’t good enough in possession during the second half.”

Skipper Ricardo Santos also returned after a hamstring injury, and Evatt said his presence was an important factor in Wanderers returning to winning ways.

“Everybody knows what I think of Rico but it is not just his performance, it is having him in the team, what it does for everyone’s mindset and mentality. Not just our team, but the opposition as well. He is imperious,” he said.

“The boy Tyreece Simpson is a big strong fella, and most centre-halves in this league he would cause a problem, but the first half in particular we saw what we’d missed with Rico and how it affects how we play.

“There were some tired bodies out there by the end – we’d only got Dion Charles, Eoin Toal and Josh Sheehan back late this week with the internationals. Rico and Paris were returning from injury, so I know we’re going to get better and improve.

“Winning was all-important and now we need to focus for this week.”

Wanderers – who have moved into fourth spot in the table - face Wycombe on Tuesday night, followed by a trip to face Charlton Athletic on Saturday.