DION Charles is happy to be repaying the faith shown in him by Ian Evatt with his goal return over the last 12 months.

The Wanderers striker has scored 25 of the club’s record 106 goals in 2023, and now sits on 14 for the season after scoring against Port Vale in midweek.

There have been leaner times - and Charles thinks back to January 2022 when Bolton paid out £320,000 to Accrington Stanley for his services as a point where his career changed.

Frozen out by Accy manager John Coleman over a disagreement about extending his contract, the Northern Ireland international was viewed as somewhat of a gamble by fans of a club which had not been used to paying out transfer fees.

But he quite quickly won over his doubters and is now closing in on 50 goals for the club, a feat achieved by only 29 other players.

“I have got a lot to thank the gaffer for, he brought me to this big club when I was perhaps at quite a low point in my career,” he told Sky Sports.

“He showed massive faith in me and I have proved him right, he made the right decision in bringing me here.

“When you have got the manager’s backing, you are always going to see the benefits of that.”

Charles had a relatively patchy start to last season, where Bolton’s goal-scoring potential was put under serious scrutiny as they competed for a spot in the play-offs.

By the 28-year-old’s own admission, Evatt stuck with him when he might have expected to be taken out of the team. Now, looking to hit the 20-goal mark for the third time in four seasons, the striker looks back at the spell as a defining moment.

“There were times when I probably shouldn’t have been on the pitch,” he added. “My job is to score goals and I wasn’t scoring them, and I think by December I was only on seven. But the gaffer stood by me, and I had a good run in the second half of the season, and I’m on target this season.”

Wanderers have recently set a new record for goals in a calendar year and have five games remaining to push the total higher.

"Records like that are lovely," said manager Evatt. "But I have said to the players, let's see how far we can take it now, and really push on through Christmas."