Paul Cook delighted with the shape of his players as Latics return for pre-season training.
- Pre-Season: The first chat with Paul Cook as Latics begin to get ready for 2018-19.
- Latics welcomed back to the Wigan Athletic Training Centre with new recruits Kal Naismith and Leo Da Silva Lopes.
- Paul Cook and his staff excited for the challenges that lie ahead, including a pre-season trip to face Rangers FC at Ibrox Stadium.
Speaking to iFollow Latics at the Wigan Athletic Training Centre as Latics returned for pre-season training ahead of the 2018-19 Sky Bet Championship campaign, manager Paul Cook said he was pleased, but in no way surprised by the shape his players have arrived back.
"The sun always shines on the first days of pre-season no matter where you are in the country.
"It's guaranteed that the players will be running in the sun and they'll sleep well at night.
"With the sports science in the game, the players' mentality to look after themselves has changed hugely. The lads have come back in great shape and it's more about fine-tuning and getting them back into the habits of what we're trying to achieve, so we're all set up for a good pre-season."
Latics players have shared their personal training regimes on social media during the break... the gaffer's thoughts?
"I think they're only kidding you lot... they just put that on there to say they've done a bit of training. All jokes aside, that's the modern day footballer now, it's great for us as staff that the lads come back in good shape and they take care of themselves during the off-season.
"It's great to see everyone back together, they're all bright and in good condition after good breaks.
"The training ground has a much different feel to it this summer than last summer. Disappointment was sinking in last year, but this summer is different and we're all excited."
Although only two days in, Cook is already thinking about what lies ahead on our journey into the Championship. He added:
"It's going to be a great season for the club, we want it to be a successful season for our fans and what we will guarantee more than anything is that we'll do our best to take every game to every team we play and supporting us this year will be a really exciting time.
"We know this season is going to be difficult, but we're going to do our best to meet it had on."
Latics face pre-season tests against Chesterfield, Tranmere Rovers and Steven Gerrard's Rangers FC, with the players and staff particularly motivated for the club's first ever visit to Ibrox Stadium.
"We're all looking forward to the Rangers match, the staff are looking forward to it even more than the players!
"To pit our wits up there against Steven (Gerrard) and his team will be a great day. Our fans will travel in great numbers, it's a great fixture at Ibrox on a Sunday afternoon and it's got the makings of a great game.
"It's our last game of pre-season, so hopefully we can go up there to finish our preparations in style before we play Sheffield Wednesday at home."
On Latics' opening fixtures, Cook continued:
"I was enjoying my summer until the fixtures came out, my son said 'you've got a tough start' I said 'don't start with that son'.
"It is what it is and it's the league we want to be in. We do want to prepare to hopefully one day go back to the Premier League, why wouldn't we think that?
"We're not stupid, we know how tough every game is going to be. The fixtures are tough early on with Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, they're fantastic fixtures and we'll do our best to prepare as well as we can for them so that our fans can be happy."
Latics' new boys Leo Da Silva Lopes, signed from Peterborough United, and Kal Naismith, a free transfer from Portsmouth, both joined the group this week, two players Cook has high hopes for.
"I'm delighted to have Leo here, he's only 19-years-old and I've got really good hopes for him. He's going to be a really good footballer and it's an exciting signing for our fans, he's a smashing young boy with great athleticism and ability. If his work ethic stays strong which we know it is, he's going to have a really exciting future in football.
"Kal is a little bit different, a little bit older. He's big and strong with a lovely left foot and he can play in numerous positions. Again, if Kal applies himself right for the game he can be anything he wants to be. We're excited by both of our signings and hopefully there can be a couple more."