Boss pleased with new additions and players who have returned to the squad.
- Praise for debutants and squad following busy January and AFC Bournemouth defeat.
- Special recognition for Saturday’s captain William Kvist.
- Mackay also pays tribute to departing centre back Liam Ridgewell.
Malky Mackay was in good spirits as he spoke to Latics Player ahead of Wednesday night’s clash with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
The Scot looked back on how his four debutants faired on their Wigan Athletic bows whilst he also discussed a positive few days on the training ground.
“We’ve got a group of players that are really fighting for the jersey and that’s refreshing,” Mackay said.
“It’s been fairly upbeat; we obviously played a very good team, a team that I think are going to be promoted, but I think overall, performance-wise, there wasn’t too much between the two teams.
“Looking at the last two performances with this new group of players, there’s certainly a fresh impetus in the squad and it all bodes for well the many games we have coming up.
“I thought Kim Bo-kyung came in and did well; his match sharpness was never going to be there but he’s got a beautiful touch, he’s very comfortable on the ball.
“I also thought Leon Clarke was good and I’m delighted that he got his goal, he looks like a proper centre forward in that he had a couple of chances in the first-half and also gets his goal too.
“Chris Herd looked solid and young Sheyi Ojo came on and, despite being only young, he showed bags of potential and good pace by going past a couple of players as if they weren’t there.
“It’s just about him learning the game and the division so, as a whole, we were pleased with how the boys came in and made an impact.”
Mackay also reserved special praise for Saturday’s captain William Kvist, who has become an important member of the team after coming back from the wilderness early in January.
“I bring William Kvist, Liam Ridgewell and Ali Al Habsi into that as well because they’re the lads that have come into the games and grabbed their chance,” he added.
“I’m delighted with William’s attitude; since the day I come in here, his attitude when not playing was terrific and he has been an example to the players that don’t get picked to keep working hard, fighting and doing the correct things so when they get their chance they take it.
“He’s taken it, ran with it and he’s been as good as anything in the last month and I felt on Saturday, with James Perch not being available, that William is a natural leader and it was good to see that there are two or three lads I could give the armband to, if needed.”
Mackay added to his group again on Tuesday with Harry Maguire coming in on a temporary deal from Hull City as Liam Ridgewell departs back to Portland Timbers following Wednesday’s clash with Forest.
And Mackay has paid tribute to the former Birmingham City, Aston Villa and West Brom man for his service to Latics.
“In the last few weeks, this new group of players that have come in are athletic, organised, well-drilled and desperately want the club to do well and they want to do well themselves and we’ll keep trying to chip away at that,” Mackay explained.
“We’ve brought Harry Maguire in this morning from Hull because we lose Liam Ridgewell back to Portland after the Forest game.
“Liam’s been terrific here in terms of the impact he’s had on the pitch and also around the club, off the pitch, that’s exactly what I hoped would happen, great thanks to Liam and good luck to him in the next part of his career.
“Harry’s a young centre back who has played a lot of football for Sheffield United and went into the Premier League with Hull and been involved up there in a few games this season so he’s here to help us out in the next few games.”