Out of all of Barrow AFC’s players, defender Sam Hird was the one who knows former manager Ian Evatt the best and he’s sure it can’t have been an easy decision for him to leave for Bolton Wanderers.

Evatt has been tasked with repeating what he has done with the Bluebirds - picking up a team from off its knees and taking it into a higher division - as part of his three year contract as the Trotters’ head coach.

The parting of ways at Holker Street has been an amicable one and Hird has joined his club’s board in wishing his old boss all the best in his new job.

With AFC, Hird has managed to get his career back on track in the last 18 months under Evatt, who he had previously played alongside for five years at Chesterfield, having worked hard to recover from hip surgery in 2018.

Hird said: “It was very disappointing to see him go, obviously, coming off the back of a very good season in which we got promoted.

“It had been a long time getting back into the Football League for the club, so first and foremost it was a massive achievement for the manager, who has now left, his staff, the players and most importantly the fans and the club.

“Moving forward, it’s disappointing that he’s gone, but what I wouldn’t say is that this is something he’s done lightly because he had such a good two seasons here and he really liked the club, the chairman and the fans being such a big part of it.

“It is a decision he wouldn’t have taken lightly, but it is football and things change very quickly in football and it’s important for the club now that we move forward and we bring in a manager who wants to carry on the success that we’ve had.”

For Hird, it was the second time in his career that he had experienced promotion alongside Evatt, with those two being the defensive pairing that helped Chesterfield climb out of League Two in 2014.

The 32-year-old is now back at that level with the Bluebirds, having helped provide the solidity at the back that allowed his teammates further up the pitch to thrive.

Hird said: “I had five years with the gaffer at Chesterfield and we had some really successful times and then he brought me up here six months into him being manager here. Since then, we’ve had nothing but success and that’s down to the group of players that the manager recruited.

“The whole squad played a part and we’ve got some really good players at the club - some good experienced players and some good young players - and we’ve all pulled together in the right direction."