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31 July 2015

O’Donnell enjoying first pre-season with Latics as he looks ahead to Blackburn clash.

  • Richard O’Donnell discusses first pre-season at the club.
  • “Scotland was tough and definitely served us well.” – O’Donnell.
  • “The intensity will step up again against Blackburn.”
Wigan Athletic travel to Ewood Park tomorrow (Saturday 1 August) to face Sky Bet Championship side Blackburn Rovers in the final pre-season friendly of the summer, as Gary Caldwell prepares his Latics side for the opening Sky Bet League One fixture away to Coventry City.

Looking ahead to the local clash with Rovers, summer signing Richard O’Donnell spends some time looking back on pre-season so far, as well as telling us what he expects from Blackburn on Saturday.

“Things have been going really well for me,” said the goalkeeper.

“It’s coming to the end of pre-season now and it’s definitely served its purpose, the lads are looking really sharp and we’re looking fit as a squad.

“We’ve got this one more game to go before the season kicks off, and we’re looking for a positive result now that we’re getting closer to the opening game against Coventry.”

Last week saw the squad face a double-header in Scotland, drawing with Partick Thistle on Tuesday evening in Glasgow, before a narrow 1-0 defeat to Dundee on Friday.

Between friendlies, Latics trained at Stirling Albion’s Forthbank Stadium, before being based in picturesque St Andrews, the ‘Home of Golf’, ahead of the trip to Dundee, but as O’Donnell explains, the week certainly wasn’t for sightseeing.

“The facilities up in Scotland were fantastic, we were well looked after for both matches, and Stirling allowed us to train on their pitch during the middle of the week.

“Being based at St Andrews was amazing, from training on the pitches at the university to recovery back at the hotel, everything was of a high standard.

“With the Open being on in the week before there was still a buzz around the town and around the complex, so the atmosphere had us all ready to go out any enjoy our training, everyone conducted themselves perfectly.”

On training itself, O’Donnell continued:

“It was tough, but that’s pre-season in a nutshell. Polly had us working really hard; it was intense stuff for me and Lee (Nicholls).

“The work with Polly is paying off for us both and I’ve got to say it’s been a very enjoyable pre-season.

“The competition with Lee has been good.  Any club you go to has two or more goalkeepers looking to get into the starting place, so me and Lee are no different and we both push each other every day.”

Watch below as Mike Pollitt puts Richard through his paces in Scotland.

Looking ahead to kick off tomorrow against Blackburn, O’Donnell said he thinks Latics have learned valuable lessons so far.

“The game against Dundee on Friday was tough because we had control for long periods of the game, but we’ll get matches like that in League One and we’ve got to learn from pre-season.

“Blackburn will be a tougher test for us in terms of work rate because both teams will up the intensity with it only being a week away from the new season.

“It’s going to be a really good game for us, having a fixture against a Championship team so close to the Coventry game will allow us to push ourselves even further, and it will give the gaffer a good indication of what he can expect from us.”

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