A TRANSFER window that once looked straightforward has ended up being a right royal pain in the behind for Ian Evatt and Bolton Wanderers.

Had you asked the Whites boss on January 1 whether he would still be active in the market on the final day of business, you would have had a firm answer to the negative.

Bolton’s plan involved finding attacking cover for the injured Dan Nlundulu, who tore his hamstring during the 2-0 victory against Port Vale in the last 32 of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy, and potentially an extra body on the right side of defence, where Gethin Jones would soon be unavailable thanks to international duty with Australia at the Asian Cup.

Niall Ennis quickly emerged as the attacking signing of choice. Out of favour with Blackburn Rovers but boasting a decent scoring record at League One level with Plymouth Argyle, the 24-year-old seemed fairly nailed on for a couple of weeks until Evatt his hit first hurdle of the month.

Rovers, whose financial situation had become complicated because of a change in tax laws affecting their Indian owners, were struggling to find their own cover, delaying Ennis’s exit. Additionally, the club wanted assurances that they would get a fixed transfer fee if the deal was made permanent – reported to be £500,000 – which prompted Bolton to take a step back.

Down in the south-west, contractual haggling between the reigning League One player of the year, Aaron Collins, and his club, Bristol Rovers, had also alerted Bolton.

Though the striker had 18 months left to run, attempts to extend the deal had stalled. New manager Matt Taylor used him less frequently than previous boss Joey Barton, who had impractically put a £5million price tag around his head last season, and the door was open for a deal to be done.

Charlton Athletic had a bid rejected, after which Wanderers followed suit. Sources close to the Londoners are unsure whether they will make a second attempt but Evatt confirmed his club had made a ‘final’ offer, which is rumoured to be worth around £750,000.

Collins pulled out of Bristol Rovers’ squad to face Oxford United at the weekend, placing greater pressure on a deal to be concluded. And though Bolton look favourites to get it done, there has been a mood of obstinacy from within the club that suggests they will not haggle any further.

Evatt maintained that he did have back-up options on Tuesday night, but he was already getting his head around the fact two of his first-choice centre-halves could suddenly be unavailable.

Ricardo Santos and Eoin Toal had scans yesterday and should hear this morning whether they are clear to play against Barnsley this weekend, or whether they will be out of action. The uncertainly is bound to mean Bolton bring in at least one centre-back able to cover, with no guarantee that Jones or the injured Will Forrester will be available until mid-February.

Wanderers waited patiently for Liverpool to send Calvin Ramsay out for a second loan, having recalled him from Preston North End on January 15.

After being heavily leaned upon, Josh Dacres-Cogley was showing some signs of wear and tear, but just as the Scotland international eased pressure on the right flank, Randell Williams’ hamstring tear presented a whole new issue on the left.

Swansea City’s Nat Ogbeta had been a target for Bolton before and nicking him off the toes of promotion rivals Peterborough United almost served a double purpose.

Both Ogbeta and Ramsay will need some time to fine tune and get their fitness up to top levels but Evatt will want to avoid a repeat of last year when virtually all his January arrivals took longer than expected to hit their peak, if indeed they did at all.

Should they complete a deal for Collins to make him their most expensive signing since 2013, the Welsh striker would presumably be first team material immediately.

Any central defensive recruits would also need to be in the sort of shape to be thrown straight in against Barnsley this weekend, with a Tuesday night trip to Cambridge United to follow.

While we are far from the ‘Supermarket Sweep’ days of old, transfer deadline day looks like being one of the busier ones of Evatt’s tenure. And considering what is at stake, arguably now the most important.

Whereas the ‘one or two’ signings predicted in early January were intended only to top up a team in form, the number could reach four or five by tonight’s 11pm deadline, and each new addition will have to be ready for an automatic promotion push.