IAN Evatt reckons tonight’s game at Wigan Athletic can be the perfect pick-me-up for Wanderers’ automatic promotion chase, if they play it right.

Local pride is at stake as the Whites go in search of three points at the DW Stadium, and any improvement on Derby County’s result against Charlton Athletic would see them leapfrog the Rams into second spot.

For that to happen, Bolton will have to perform better than they did at Blackpool on Saturday, where a 4-1 hiding left the manager and his players nursing wounded pride.

But Evatt remains confident his team can handle the expectation of chasing a top two spot, even with some key players missing through injury like Nathan Baxter and Dion Charles.

“At this stage of the season it is a different feel, of course, and at the moment we are in the top two,” he said. “We have that extra game so we’d only need a point from that extra game to be in the automatic spots but we are in it, fully in it, and we have been for most of the season. Of course that carries the weight of expectation.

“I have said a lot that pressure is a privilege and we have to make sure we function under pressure.

“Of course, having your best players available will help that happen, but I have huge belief in this squad that we can do better.

“I said to them today that if I were to choose one game to have after Saturday, it would be this one. We have to go and play like that.”

Wanderers have not beaten Wigan since an FA Cup third round tie in 2015 and have suffered some heavy defeats at their neighbours’ hands in recent years.

Defeat at Blackpool brought some stuttering form into focus but Evatt is confident his team can produce a response to send a sold-out away contingent home happy on Tuesday night.

“Sometimes you have to take a few punches, get off the canvass and show what you can do,” he said.

“And what a great opportunity for us to have this game and recover.

“We are fully aware it is a derby and that we have not done ourselves justice in these games, as of yet, and that includes the draw we got there a couple of seasons ago.

“We have 13 hugely significant games to go. Fortunately for us on Saturday we slipped up but others did as well. We are not really any worse off and it is still very much in our hands.

“We have to take it on. I don’t think we have necessarily had the rub of the green in recent weeks for a number of reasons – injuries, suspensions, abandonments, refereeing decisions, but what we have to do better is take accountability for our own performances and actions. Regardless of what goes on, there are things we should be doing better and we are working hard to try and make that happen.”