Evatt Wants Rico On The Journey

Captain Ricardo Almeida Santos will return to lead Wanderers on Saturday and boss Ian Evatt hopes he’s here to stay.

Santos missed the Whites’ mid-week win over Lincoln City as he was present at the birth of his second son.

But the defensive strongman will be available for the weekend’s big game at MK Dons and Evatt wants Santos, 26, to remain a key part of his longer-term plans by agreeing a new deal at the University of Bolton Stadium.

“It’s good to have him back and huge congratulations to him and his partner,” said the Wanderers’ boss.

“We are trying to protect our assets and our better players and Rico is certainly one of them.

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“We will start to have negotiations and talks with his representatives and see where that takes us.

“Ricco is a huge part of this club and a big part of the journey that we’re trying to go on.

“We think the world of him. We think he’s a top player with a big, big future so hopefully we can be part of that future and keep progressing up the ladder together.”

Former Peterbrough and Barnet centre-back Santos – whose current deal with the Whites runs until June, 2023 – is likely to be joined in the squad for the trip to Stadium MK by defensive colleague Declan John.

The wing-back had to be substituted at half-time of Tuesday night’s sixth successive home win - a 3-1 success againnst Lincoln - after suffering a back spasm.

But Evatt is confident of having the in-form Welshman available to face the third-placed Dons.

“We’ll take it to tomorrow and Saturday but he looks okay at the moment,” Evatt added.

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Wanderers play their eighth and final fixture of a frantic February at MK Dons and will be looking to end a magical month on a high.

Evatt’s men went into the month on the back of a hat-tricks of wins and have continued their epic run with five more wins and a draw.

That record has lifted them back into the top 10 and with the chance to further erode a five-point gap to the play-off places when they face an MK Dons side looking to firm up their own top-six credentials.

“It’s been tough – no doubt about it,” said Evatt.

“But we’re going to have to give one big effort and one big push on Saturday because it’s a really difficult game.

“We’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can get the right result.

“It’s two teams in top form at the moment and something’s got to give. Hopefully we can maintain our good winning form.”

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