SHAUN Miller’s return to fitness can be good news for Wanderers’ top scorer Eoin Doyle, says Ian Evatt.
For most of the season Doyle has been front and centre for the Whites, playing more on-pitch minutes than any other player with the exception of Ricardo Santos.
The Irishman has 11 goals to his name and is on-course to be the first Bolton player to top a dozen since Michael Ricketts in 2002.
He endured a tough afternoon at Southend, seeing one effort cleared off the line and missing a couple of chances before being replaced by the fit-again Miller with 15 minutes remaining.
Evatt has had little option but to keep Doyle on the pitch for most of the season but centre-forward is another area he now feels has the right level of competition.
“Obviously it makes me look brilliant when I make changes on Wednesday and we win the game and I make changes today and we win the game,” he said after the Southend win. “But it helps when I’ve got those options and those players have really bought into what we’re doing and the whole squad is really together.
“We don’t want to leave anyone at home really. The squad that I’ve selected to go forwards with, we’re all together on this and we want them supporting their mates and you could see from the reaction in the stands from the players who weren’t on the pitch, it means everything to everybody.” Miller’s striker instincts kicked in on Saturday for the winning goal – but Evatt was equally happy with the celebrations in the stands.
“That’s what good strikers do,” he said of Miller’s predatory finish. “I think Eoin will be cursing his luck because he’d have liked a chance like that, but at the end of the day it’s a team game and no-one was more happy than Eoin Doyle celebrating in the stands when Shaun Miller scored and that’s what we’re about.
“We’re coming together as a team. We’ve got a real closeness and togetherness now all around the squad, all around the board, off the pitch, the non-football staff, the football staff, we’re really coming together, which is great to see.”
Doyle’s difficult day is of no concern to Evatt – who backed his star striker to get back among the goals quickly.
“No, not at all. Doyler will score 99 times out of 100 those chances (in the Southend game),” he said “I think he just slipped in that first half and that’s perfectly understandable with the conditions really.”
Miller returned after more than two months on the sidelines with a thigh injury to score his first league goal for Wanderers.
And Evatt believes his return to prominence is a big incentive to the other fringe players who are looking to get into the first team picture.
“I’m delighted for Shaun but that’s what I say to them all,” he said. “Any squad of players are only as good as the ones out of the team. The ones in the team are really easy to keep happy and on board, it’s the rest of them that you need to keep on board and switched on. I tell them all the time that they’re going to be needed and there’s going to be key and pivotal moments in this run-in where they’re going to make the difference for us and they’re going to have to keep themselves switched on and ready for that moment.”