IAN Evatt has made a plea to referees to stop Josh Sheehan being singled out by League One opponents.

The Welsh playmaker is currently the division’s fourth most fouled player but has found himself increasingly targeted for heavy treatment as his influence has grown on Bolton’s promotion push.

Evatt will look to the diminutive Sheehan for inspiration again on Saturday as his side look to beat Blackpool at Bloomfield Road in the league for the first time since 1977.

Ref Josh Smith is due to take charge of the Lancashire clash, which is rarely anything other than a full-blooded affair. And Evatt hopes his midfield ace will start to get more protection.

“Josh is in really good form and when he plays well, we play well, which is probably as clear-cut as you can get,” he told The Bolton News.

“He is dictating the speed of games and that is why opponents are targeting him – which they clearly are.

“My frustration is that just because it is a different player every time doesn’t mean that the referee shouldn’t deal with it.

“If the opposition are smart enough to mix it around then the referees need to be smarter to see what is happening and deal with it earlier to stop it, and it is happening too much now.

“I don’t think it is fair on Josh but also I think he should take a lot of credit. The things he is doing is clearly being watched by opponents, who are then acting on it.”

Despite being fouled 14 times in his last four starts, Sheehan has actually picked up three bookings of his own, pushing him to within one more of a suspension.

The former Newport man picked up the latest of his yellow cards at Cambridge United, leaving Evatt scratching his head.

He told us: “He gets walloped five or six times in the first 20 minutes on Tuesday night and then he makes one tackle and gets yellow carded, that is my frustration. The tolerance level is completely different and there has to be more consistency.”

Wanderers beat Blackpool at home in November and fought out a 0-0 draw in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy quarter final, which then finished in a penalty shootout defeat.

The Tangerines missed out on a place at Wembley after losing the semi-final 3-0 to Peterborough United on Tuesday night but Evatt does not expect that result to have a major impact on what he expects will be a closely-fought contest.

He said: “I know first hand that this is a big game for both clubs, it is a local-ish derby, and I don’t think there is much love between both clubs, barring me, I appreciate them both greatly. There are reasons for that.

“Both teams will be out to win and the atmosphere will be electric on Saturday. We have sold all our tickets and I know what the place is like when it is rocking – we had a small taste of it with probably a half-full Bloomfield Road in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy game.

“We know we are going into a really challenging game but we’re looking forward to it.”