KYLE Dempsey’s stellar return for Wanderers has made Ian Evatt a very happy man.

The midfielder had missed the previous seven games after a fracture was discovered in his back, which stemmed from a heavy challenge sustained in a game against Fleetwood back in August.

Dempsey played through the pain for several weeks after Carlos Mendes Gomes and Paris Maghoma both picked up muscular injuries but was eventually forced to rest just before Bolton embarked on their current winning run.

He came back as a substitute in the second half of Saturday’s 7-0 romp against Exeter City to claim the sixth goal of the day – and his first of the campaign.

“The difference in him this week has been incredible,” Evatt said. “I will take the blame for Kyle having to play with a back injury. We had no other choice.

“He was really restricted but he wanted to do it for the fans, for the club, for his team-mates. And you can see this week the freedom he has in his movement, his running power, his dynamism is back. We saw that second half, it was great.”

Randell Williams was forced to pull out of the squad with an ankle problem but Evatt is hopeful he will be involved in Tuesday night’s squad at Oxford United.

“He has a bit of tendonitis,” he said. “It flared up this week. We have had an awful lot of rain and the pitches at Lostock have been quite heavy, so that can take its toll a bit.

“We chose to look after him today but we will monitor the situation now next week with the Oxford game.”

Making changes from the bench is not a concern for Evatt, who has been impressed with the level of competitiveness his squad has achieved in recent weeks.

Though concerns had been voiced throughout the fanbase that Bolton’s squad was comparatively small in comparison to some of the other leading lights in League One, the manager remains pleased with the players at his disposal.

“When I look back at the bench and see those guys sat there, it is exciting for me to be able to give the lads a rest. They need that with two big games coming up – but we also know that quality is not going to drop,” he said.

“We have worked hard to build this squad and we have had value for money. People will perceive that we are spending millions and millions but we are not, this is being done in a strategic and sustainable way and we have managed to build a squad that is very competitive.

“The challenge starts for us right now. We have had to work hard and go on an unbelievable run to get ourselves back in the mix. We are right in there now and we have to work hard to stay there.”

Wanderers have also embarked on a run of six straight clean sheets for only the fourth time in their history, the last being in January and February 1976.

Evatt was pleased with his side’s defending in all areas of the pitch.

He said: “I had a brief look at some of the data before I came up here and their XG was 0.07, which is a really good marker that we defended well. I thought our counter press was excellent and some of the goals came from that.

“When they are sat and well-organised in a deep block, sometimes we can become more dangerous without the ball. Our counter-press was excellent and then we played quickly in transition and got the goal when they were out of shape, so I am pleased with that.

“Clean sheets matter to us because we know we can score. While we are keeping clean sheets we have a great chance to win the game because we back our lads to get one at the other end.”