Bolton Wanderers Boss Targeting Repeat Success

Bolton Wanderers manager Ian Evatt is keen to repeat last season’s EFL Trophy success as they begin to start their title defence tonight.

The Trotters went into the final at Wembley Stadium in April as underdogs as they took on eventual League One champions Plymouth Argyle, but a magnificent display on the day saw them run out 4-0 winners.

Their defence of the trophy begins with the visit of League Two outfit Salford City in the first of three group games, which also includes neighbours Stockport County and Manchester United’s under-21 side. The Red Devils’ youngsters currently top the group after securing a penalty shootout win over Stockport last month.

Bolton are one of the favourites to secure promotion to the Championship this season and there is a temptation to heavily rotate the squad. However, Evatt is keen to get the competition off to a winning start, although knows he is in for a tough game. Speaking to The Bolton News, he said;

“Nothing changes – we go into this competition wanting to win it.

“We wanted to deliver something for the fans, a memory and an occasion, and I think we did that – but this year our approach will be exactly the same.

“We played Salford in pre-season and we know it will be a challenge, they are a good team who have done well in the cup competitions already this season, but we want to get off to a good start as well.”

Bolton’s League One clash with Shrewsbury Town on Saturday has been postponed due to international call-ups, but that luxury does not extend to tonight and Evatt will be without the services of Dion Charles, Eoin Toal, Josh Sheehan and Zac Ashworth. This means that changes will have to be made, but the manager is undeterred by this;

“It gives us the chance to utilise the squad but I think this group is a strong one and when we make changes it doesn’t necessarily mean we will be lots weaker. I think we have a blend and a balance,” he said.

“The internationals being away isn’t ideal because some of those players need game time. But some of those who have gone away, Zac Ashworth for example, will probably start for Wales Under-21s. He will get that game time it would just be more ideal if it was for us.

“We are a few bodies light but it does give the opportunity for a few of the B Team who have done well so far this season and we are excited by the challenge.

“It is a competition that we want to do well in and I don’t think anyone has ever done back-to-back but I don’t think anyone would mind another day at Wembley and another trophy.

“We know what our main aim and main prize is, that isn’t going to change, but if we can have a good cup run and get to Wembley again it wouldn’t do us any harm to go and do it again.”

Writer’s View

The EFL Trophy is a competition which has certainly divided the fans over the years, particularly since the addition of Premier League academy teams. However, as witnessed in last season’s final between Bolton and Plymouth, a trip to Wembley can still attract big numbers, with just over 80,000 people cramming into the national stadium.

That said, Bolton have bigger ambitions this season and they won’t be too disappointed if they don’t match last season’s success, despite saying otherwise publicly.

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