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GARY CALDWELL REFLECTS ON PRE-SEASON OPENER AT CHESTER

14 July 2016

Boss content with pre-season opener in Cheshire as 22 players get game time against the National League side.

  • “Signs of improvement” – Caldwell.
  • Boss highlights importance of seven pre-season matches and the different challenges they may bring.
  • Nick Powell has chance of making Latics return against Manchester United or Liverpool this weekend.
Wigan Athletic manager Gary Caldwell was relatively happy with his side’s performance as they continued their pre-season preparations with a 0-0 draw at Chester FC of the National League.

Caldwell used 22 players on the night, and handed first Latics appearances to new signings Dan Burn and Alex GIlbey whilst trialist Ryan Taylor also featured for the first 45 minutes.

Reflecting post-match with LaticsPlayer HD, Caldwell said:

“I saw signs of improvement and I thought we looked sharp in the first-half especially whilst in the second-half it probably took us 20 minutes to get going because it’s always difficult for a full team to come on at half-time.

“But for our finishing, our play up top and in and around the box was very good.

“The new lads have settled in fine; we’ve been in for two to three weeks now so we’ve got to know the players and we’ve done a lot of work on different things so that they understand how we want to play. I thought Alex and Dan looked very comfortable.”

The game at Chester was Latics’ first domestic match of pre-season after a week of warm-weather training in Portugal, a trip Caldwell feels his side benefitted immensely from.

“Portugal was really important for us,” he added. “It’s really important for us to spend time together and we had the opportunity to train in a nice climate with no worry of weather conditions and the facilities were great too.”

Latics now have an unprecedented six further pre-season games in what is the busiest pre-season for the club in the modern era and Caldwell admits the volume of matches was something he was keen to arrange.

“I think it’s important that we have different types of games,” Caldwell explained. “Ahead of Chester we did a lot of work on playing out from the back in preparation, things like controlling the game and keeping the ball and you could see that in the performance.

“On Saturday and Sunday [against Manchester United and Liverpool], though, we’re going to have to be well-drilled off the ball in preparation for winning the ball back and how we’re going to do that.

“It’s good to have different challenges ahead of us; I wanted a lot of games, I felt last year that we didn’t get enough and we weren’t ready come the start of the season and I think the games we have will get us ready for the first game.”

Caldwell is naturally excited to test himself against both Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp this weekend and he says he hopes he may be able to include new signing Nick Powell and striker Will Grigg, but both will have to be carefully managed to ensure they are 100% for the start of the season.

“We’ll have to wait and see on Nick Powell and Will Grigg’s involvement at the weekend,” he continued. “Nick did some work with the fitness coaches the other day and we’ll see how he is on Thursday and Friday. I imagine he’ll get some game time but probably not from the start.

“Will worked with Nick and he’s as fit as the other boys but we just have to be careful with him; we don’t want to push him too much because of the hard summer that he has had.”

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