GETHIN Jones admits the hurt of his first-ever red card and criticism over a loss of form before the international break has driven him on his return.

The defender helped Wanderers to an impressive 2-0 win at Charlton Athletic on Saturday, which put them level on points with second-placed Oxford United in the League One table.

It topped a flawless week for Ian Evatt’s side and the two huge away followings taken to Wycombe and The Valley.

Jones had come under fire for some of his performances – with a low point coming against Peterborough United, where he was handed a straight red for a challenge on Posh winger Ricky Jade-Jones.

Though protected by manager, Evatt, who said he “didn’t get the stick” aimed at the club’s vice-captain, Jones was forthright as he spoke to the local media on Saturday.

“I will hold my hands up, a few games before I wasn’t performing to my best,” he told The Bolton News. “I have obviously played better than I did before the international break and then the sending off was a big disappointment for me. It was the first one I’d had in my career and I was devastated.

“I came away from it and went into the international break, worked hard every single day, and it (the criticism) does drive you.

“We as a squad know our objectives for the season and we are working really, really hard, pushing ourselves, and if we do that, those performances will improve. We can get even better.”

Jones is by no means an isolated case in a Bolton squad where many players are fighting to prove a point of some description to their critics.

Mental strength, the defender argues, will be a key ingredient if the club is to maintain its challenge for a top two spot until May.

“It is hugely important and the manager is massive in all that, he really helps the players,” he added. “We have got a very mentally strong squad with real togetherness. It is probably the best changing room I have ever been involved in and we push each other off the pitch as well.

“If there is anyone down, we lift them up. Obviously, I’ve hit some pretty bad times in the past and the lads have helped me. I try to help anyone as well if they have got problems off the pitch, and it makes for a really strong squad bond together.”

The last team to stop Charlton scoring at home were Sheffield Wednesday back in February, and given the schedule Bolton had been given, Jones felt the result was all the more impressive.

“We’d spoken with the manager this morning and me, Rico, George Thomason, none of us can remember a difficult week like this since we have been here – Northampton home, Wycombe and Charlton away, and gone win-win-win.

“We knew Charlton were going to be a dangerous team, they have some good players in that side, but we were just made up to get the win.”