Latics manager Warren Joyce discusses the work he’s done on the training ground, team news and Barnsley ahead of our trip to Oakwell on Saturday.
- “I have enjoyed working with the boys,” – Warren Joyce.
- Andy Kellett and Donervon Daniels both edging close to a first-team return.
- Joyce: “Barnsley are good at home, we’ll have to be up for the battle.”
Paul Heckingbottom’s current crop of Tykes may provide the sternest test Latics have faced at Oakwell in recent seasons having won there on four of their last five visits.
Assessing the task ahead, Joyce told Latics PlayerHD:
“They’re a really well organised team that work hard; they’ve got players that have been playing together nearly all season so they’re well drilled, they know their system, know their jobs and know their roles and they’re prepared to roll their sleeves up and work and fight to stay in the league.
“They’ve been good at home so we have to be right on the front foot and be up for the battle.
“It is important we know our jobs with and without the ball; that’s the basics and we want everybody to know their role in the side and how to stop Barnsley playing but also look at ways we can exploit them and cause them problems to score goals ourselves.”
Joyce has been blessed to have a fortnight working with his new players due to the international break, with only Will Grigg (Northern Ireland) and Shaun MacDonald away with their countries.
And the former Manchester United coach explained the work that has gone on behind the scenes over the course of the past two weeks.
“I think the players have worked really hard; we have had plenty of time to work with them on the grass and the intensity has been good and you can’t fault that from them barring probably the first three or four minutes against Reading,” he explained.
“I have enjoyed working with the boys; they’ve been receptive to the things we have tried to do and it is still early days but we’ve learnt a lot about everybody in the last ten days.
“We had a practice game in-house on Saturday morning and we have been working on a lot of game-related stuff so we can get different pictures of the players and what they’re capable of in different match situations.
“From that, they can show you what they’re like and what they do by the decisions they make and how they handle themselves in different situations and, for me, that’s the easiest way to get a feel for everybody.”
Joyce has also been boosted by the return of Andy Kellett and Donervon Daniels to first-team training, though he also added that Alex Gilbey and Reece James are more likely to return in the Christmas and New Year period.
“There have been a couple of players that have joined in and out with Andy Kellett and Donervon Daniels joining back in partly,” Joyce added.
“We have had one or two little knocks from the game, which you expect, so we are just managing that this week and hopefully we will have nearly everyone available for the weekend.
“Alex [Gilbey] and Reece [James] are a longer process and I certainly don’t anticipate them playing in the next three or four weeks, certainly.”
Latics’ manager was also pleased to hear of another expected good away following, and stated the supporters should be praised for the way they stuck with the players despite a disastrous start against Reading in his first game in charge.
“I thought the fans, to their credit, stuck with us after a very disappointing first five minutes in a game at home that we obviously wanted to do well in to start my time at Wigan Athletic Football Club,” he continued.
“We certainly weren’t looking for a start like that but I am looking for the side to emulate myself really.
“This is a new start, a new challenge, a new battle and we are going into Saturday knowing what to expect from Barnsley but also that we have to be up for that battle and fight to give the supporters something to cheer.”