WANDERERS have paid the price for some high-profile stumbles this season – but Josh Sheehan insists they can handle the pressure of the play-offs.

Beaten over two legs by Barnsley in the semi-finals 12 months ago, Ian Evatt’s side had targeted an automatic spot this time around and kept themselves in contention right up to the very last weekend of the campaign.

But after missing out by the narrowest margins, supporters may look back at dropped points in games where they had ample chances to claim more – Reading, Wigan and Derby away, Portsmouth and Shrewsbury at home – and ask if this side has the requisite ruthlessness on the biggest occasions.

Sheehan knows they are the sort of doubts being cast, even though Bolton have improved in nearly every measurable aspect from the one that left the Oakwell pitch last May.

“Maybe people are questioning whether we can handle the pressure and there is only one way to answer that, really,” he told The Bolton News.

“We have to go out, play-our way in the play-offs, and then at Wembley show once again that we can handle it. I think we are more than capable of handling it.”

Wanderers will point towards a few patches of misfortune since the turn of the year, particularly during February where they lost Nathan Baxter, Dion Charles and Ricardo Santos to injury.

Over the last few weeks, Evatt has worked hard to try and ‘reset’ the mentality of his squad, knowing the play-offs could be on their way.

Sheehan feels the players are now ready to make the best out of the situation and make sure they are the ones lifting the trophy at Wembley on May 18.

“We are disappointed ourselves because we do feel we could have been top two but we’re not, we can’t cry over that anymore, it’s done,” he said.

“We have to look forward and make sure we take momentum into the play-offs with us because we know on our day we have enough to beat anyone.

“We have to step it up now, make sure we’re on it every single day, and then we can show it when it really matters.”

On a personal level, Sheehan has enjoyed his best season at Bolton, picking up the club’s player of the year award a couple of weeks ago.

Having battled back from a serious knee injury picked up in an FA Cup tie at Stockport in November 2021, he has reclaimed a regular starting spot with Bolton and forced his way into the Wales national squad once again, also making the League One team of the season.

Proud of his efforts, Sheehan is now looking to put the proverbial cherry on the cake and ensure he is playing Championship football next season.

“Now, any way, shape or form, the goal is to get promotion,” he said. “If we can do that – winning an individual prize feels 10 times better.

“I have worked hard to get to this point, the injury, the rehab, waiting for my chance again once I was fit enough to train, but this season has been really special for me and I’d love to finish it off by going up.”