Boss assesses evening’s work in Glasgow.
- Slow-starting Latics improved according to Caldwell.
- Jennings goal “brilliant” and forward is part of plans.
- Praise for Flores and Grigg-Davies strike partnership.
- Late signing Reece James a pleasing addition for Gary.
The first day of Wigan Athletic’s four-day tour of Scotland left Gary Caldwell with plenty to be pleased with as a side consisting of multiple youth graduates, new additions and a trialist produced a solid display to earn a 1-1 draw with Scottish Premiership side Partick Thistle at the Firhill Stadium.
Ryan Jennings’ equaliser, just minutes after Steven Lawless’ second-half opener, earned Latics a draw and maintained the unbeaten start to pre-season after a draw at Altrincham and win over Southport and Caldwell was content with his side’s effort, all things considered.
“I thought it took the lads a while to get going in the game,” he said. “That’s understandable after coming up to Scotland on the bus this morning and then throwing in the two new loan players and a trialist.
“After 15 or 20 minutes I thought we got a hold on the game and played well.”
With a game against Dundee to come on Friday and more training sessions throughout the week, Caldwell was mindful of burning out any players who have featured heavily in the pre-season programme to date and instead he gave some of his younger players a chance, albeit some in unfamiliar roles.
Two of those players were goalscorer Jennings and Jordan Flores, who both received praise in the manager’s post-match assessment with LaticsPlayerHD.
“Ryan’s brilliant,” Caldwell continued. “Since Altrincham he’s picked up and I can see him growing in confidence and I’ve told him he’s got a part to play if he produces performances like that.
“Tonight he played in a midfield position that isn’t his strongest but I thought he applied himself well and when he got further up the pitch he caused them problems and that’s another performance he can be happy with.
“We’re trying to get people game time so some players played out of position and Jordan Flores was one of them, though I think he can play as a left wing back, his best position is midfield.
“It’s a good 90 minutes for Jordan, he’s growing in confidence because he’s working with the first team every day and he’s someone that’s very much a part of our group now.”
A further positive came towards the end of the game as substitutes Craig Davies and Will Grigg linked up to create a golden opportunity for the latter to open his Latics account.
And, though the former Walsall man shot narrowly wide, Caldwell was encouraged by an already blossoming pairing.
“We got Will Grigg and Craig Davies on the pitch and you started to see glimpses of the team that will hopefully emerge in the coming weeks – I thought we looked very strong near the end of the game,” he continued.
“I think when they came on the physical presence we had up front was there and it made a big difference. Will’s movement is clever and he had two opportunities where he could have scored.
“We’re looking forward to working on that partnership, not only in training but also on the pitch by getting more match time under the belt.”
The club also completed the signing of Reece James late on Tuesday evening and Caldwell was pleased to have beaten off stiff competition for the left back who has come through the ranks at Manchester United.
“Reece is a very fast defender who has great promise in the game,” he explained. “He’s a player that has come through the ranks all the way to the first team at Manchester United and that speaks volumes.
“There were plenty of Championship clubs interested in him but the fact he’s decided his future lies here says a lot about what we’re trying to do and hopefully Reece can make a major contribution.”