Ian Evatt has welcomed the international recognition for a growing band of his players as Wanderers look to send them off on a high.
The Whites could have half-a-dozen members of their squad away on international duty following Saturday’s home game against Peterborough United.
And Evatt believes the call-ups are a positive reflection of Wanderers’ progress after climbing back from the brink to a place in the current top six of League One.
“Two-and-a-bit years ago we didn’t have any international footballers,” said the Whites’ boss.
“All of a sudden, we’ve got a squad full of them.
“It’s great credit to the journey we’ve been on with our recruitment process, that we’ve now got a really talented group of players.”
As well as international quality in their permanent ranks, Wanderers (whose number of players capped at under-21 level and above and not currently playing for their countries is approaching double figures) have also been able to attract young players from Premier League clubs on loan to add to the international roster.
The on-loan Liverpool pair of Conor Bradley (Northern Ireland) and Owen Beck (Wales’ U21s) have been called up, along with James Trafford after the on-loan Manchester City goalkeeper was named in England’s U21 squad to play games against Italy and Germany.
Bradley is joined in Northern Ireland’s full squad to face Nations League qualifiers against Kosovo and Greece by Wanderers’ striker Dion Charles.
Amadou Bakayoko is included in the Sierra Leone squad for friendlies against South Africa and DR Congo, while Wanderers were waiting to hear whether striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson would return to Iceland’s squad for their up-coming games.
Either way, Bodvarsson will make a welcome return to club duty when the Whites – whose game at Portsmouth on 24 September has been postponed due to their number of international calls – face Peterborough at the University of Bolton Stadium.
“It’s great to have him back. He’s a big, big players for us,” added Evatt, who has been without the frontman for five games with a hamstring injury.
“We’ve missed him and it adds to the competition and adds to my headaches! We’re excited to have him back.”
With Bodvarsson back in the frame, Evatt has plenty of forward permutations at his disposal.
Charles – who now has four goals in his last five appearances – got off the mark in the league in Tuesday night’s 2-0 win at MK Dons where he was partnered by Elias Kachunga.
And Evatt can also call on Bayakoko and last season’s top scorer Dapo Afolayan as in-form Wanderers aim for a third successive league win against a Peterborough team which is not short of firepower of their own.
“We’re really pleased with the strikers we’ve got. No doubt about that,” said Evatt.
“We’ve got some very good, talented players that all offer something slightly different and we believe in them that once we create those chances eventually they're going to take them.
“Peterborough are a dangerous team. They have some really good players and probably one of the league’s outstanding strikers in (Jonson) Clarke-Harris.
“They are always in the game because they create so much and are always knocking on the door asking questions, so it’s a game for concentration for 90 minutes and ensuring we keep them away from our goal.”
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