FRUSTRATION probably got the better of Ian Evatt when he tackled the subject of Dion Charles and Nathan Baxter’s fitness saga last week – but the Bolton boss has now moved to clear up some of the confusion.

When asked about the pair before the Stevenage game his response had been notably brief and suitably sharp, both to the local media and the official club channels.

The lack of clarity in Evatt’s answer sparked a wave of rumours, from bust-ups to both now having season-ending injuries, and neither of those scenarios are correct.

But that is not to say there has not been friction between the Bolton boss and two of his key players during multiple abandoned attempts to get them back on the pitch.

Charles – whose knee issue had kept him out of action since early February – went away with the Northern Ireland squad for friendlies against Romania and Scotland.

The striker did not want to turn a call down from his country, and likewise, Michael O’Neill and his coaching staff wanted to give him every chance of playing after a tentative return to the training ground at Lostock the week before the international break.

Evatt learned that his top goal-scorer’s knee had flared up just before addressing the press and had not been entirely impressed with him travelling in the first place.

“I was really frustrated on Wednesday, you probably guessed that,” he told The Bolton News. “But I hadn’t even set eyes on Dion and if you are asking me, personally, I didn’t think it was the right thing to go away with Northern Ireland.

“But we are in the hands of Northern Ireland and in the hands of Dion, we have to respect that.

“When I got eyes on him on Wednesday and found out he’d aggravated the injury again I was clearly very frustrated.

“It wasn’t damaged to the point where it will set him back weeks but it was going to affect our plans.”

Charles is now back in-house and stands an outside chance of facing Reading.

On hearing the news, the response from many Bolton Wanderers fans has been along the lines of ‘we’ll believe it when we see it’ and Evatt, more than anyone, will understand the cynicism.

Baxter’s injury has been arguably even more destructive since February.

Initially damaging his wrist against Barnsley – and with no substitute goalkeeper available – the former Chelsea stopper played for nine minutes in the abandoned game at Cambridge United and had initially been willing to “play through the pain” and keep the number one spot he had held all season.

But acting on independent medical advice which advised caution, Baxter opted not to risk exacerbating the ligament injury and went into a protective cast for a couple of weeks.

When that was removed over the international break and signs of healing were shown it was again recommended that he gave it a little more time, which effectively ruled him out of the Stevenage game, and most likely Reading too.

The goalkeeper is keen to return but having missed a big chunk of his loan with Hull City in the Championship through injury, is also looking to ensure he is not ruled out long-term once again.

Around the international break Bolton also lost Randell Williams, Calvin Ramsay and Gethin Jones to minor issues – all of which have not helped Evatt’s mood.

He said: “There have been times this season – and especially in the last couple of months – I’m thinking: ‘Why us, why does this keep happening to us?’ “But we can’t really think like that. We have to be positive and give it everything. On Monday we have to go and seize the moment against Reading because nobody is going to hand it to us on a plate.”

Evatt understands the disappointment that accompanied Friday’s goalless draw with Stevenage, and a performance that he felt was out of character with those that had gone before.

But he remains convinced that the automatic promotion chase is not over, and should his team get back on the front foot against Reading and earn three points, the return of injured players like Charles and Baxter could yet be a factor in success.

“We have to have a go,” he said. “We have to be that type of team and I didn’t see that (at Stevenage), it was a safe performance. It was an away-from-home performance trying to take a point.

“At the stage of the season we are at we need more, I get it completely.

“We have been going into the these fights and battles with a water pistol rather than an armada, that’s what it has felt like. Nine key players missing but they are going to come back, they will be back, and we just need to make sure that firstly we take care of Monday and then we will see what happens for the remainder of the season.”