DAN Nlundulu requires surgery on a torn hamstring and could face a number of months on the side-lines at Wanderers.

The striker limped out of Tuesday night’s Bristol Street Motors Trophy win against Port Vale, after which scans have confirmed that he has suffered a “significant” tear to the muscle.

Evatt admitted it was a blow to lose the former Southampton man, who had played himself into some good goalscoring form of late.

“It isn’t good,” he said. “We are looking months rather than weeks and that’s a big disappointment for him and for us.

“The fact he has been in good form makes it even tougher to deal with for him, he had been getting to be the player I knew he could be.

“This is a family and when one of us hurts, we all hurt. We will help him through a tough time and he has taken it to heart.

“He is an emotional guy and we all think the world of him. We will rally around him and give him all the support he needs. I am sure he will be back stronger.”

Nlundulu was injured trying to turn the ball home after a re-taken penalty had been saved by Vale keeper Jayson Leutweiler – a cruel twist of fate for the 24-year-old.

“Football can be so strange,” he said. “If the first penalty had been allowed to count there would be no injury, or if he had scored the second there would be no injury. It is a difficult thing but it is part of the game.

“Dan has had a pretty emotional journey since he has been here but he was on a real high recently and we were starting to see the player he can be. But it isn’t the end, he has had a taste of what success is like and now it is down to him to get back to those levels.”

Along with George Johnston, Nlundulu is the only player who will definitely not be in contention for a place in the squad at Portsmouth on Monday night.

Youngster Luke Matheson has now recovered from the minor hamstring problem that kept him out of the Port Vale game in midweek.

Evatt said: “He had a slight hamstring strain but he has trained again today, so there are no problems,” he added. “It was more precautionary than anything else.

“Obviously he has had some issues with his hamstrings in the past and we have worked very hard to build-up the strength there but sometimes when he does feel there is a potential problem we need to pull him out and make sure we look after him, so that was the decision we made on Tuesday.”

Monday’s trip to Fratton Park in front of the Sky Sports cameras gives Bolton a chance to return to top spot in League One, and Evatt feels his side go into the game in confident mood.

“Both teams are in really good form, both have shown exceptional consistency for a significant period of time,” he said.

“We are playing probably the best football we have played in my reign as manager, so it is a really good match-up.

“We know the league title won’t be decided Monday but we can certainly lay a marker down and I am sure both sides will be doing all they can to make that happen.”