MCCLEAN’S READY TO FIRE AGAIN

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Jamie Holt

JAMES McClean ad­mits he’s still rusty fol­low­ing a dis­rupted pre-sea­son but he’s sure Wi­gan’s fleet of Pre­mier League stars will get him through a tricky Cham­pi­onship open­ing.

The next test of his fit­ness comes to­day in the shape of Mid­dles­brough, them­selves look­ing to make it back to the top flight this sea­son af­ter four years away.

The winger has made two league ap­pear­ances for the Lat­ics since mak­ing a £1m move from Sun­der­land – the 1-0 loss against Bournemouth last week­end and the 2-2 draw against Don­caster in mid­week.

But af­ter fall­ing out of favour with Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio in the sum­mer he’s been play­ing catch up af­ter be­ing left out of the ma­jor­ity of their warm-up games.

Spirit

How­ever, with the likes of Grant Holt, Ben Wat­son, James McArthur and Scott Car­son lin­ing up for the FA Cup hold­ers the 24-year-old is cer­tain he can get up to speed with­out his lack of sharp­ness af­fect­ing re­sults.

“It’s early days for me and I’m find­ing my feet be­cause I haven’t had any pre-sea­son football with the team,” said McClean.

“There’s a good fight­ing spirit here at the club with some strong char­ac­ters and the lads have re­ally taken me in.

“They’ve have made it easy for me to set­tle in from day one and we en­joy a good laugh to­gether.

“It’s a new team and it might take time to gel, but we know we’ve got good qual­ity and it’s im­por­tant that we gel as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We’re equipped to deal with the dif­fer­ent teams in this di­vi­sion no mat­ter what comes our way.

“I’m sure that what­ever ap­proach our op­po­si­tion take against us we’ll be able to adapt to that be­cause we’ve got some fan­tas­tic play­ers.

“We’ve got enough qual­ity to over­come most teams but we need to make sure we’ve got the fo­cus and de­ter­mi­na­tion as well.”

Cal­lum McMana­man will serve the sec­ond of his three­match ban fol­low­ing his red card at Bournemouth last week­end while Gary Cald­well, Ivan Ramis and Ali Al Habsi all re­main ab­sent with long-term in­juries.

Thomas Rogne has now upped his re­cov­ery and he should be avail­able for se­lec­tion shortly but the game against Boro could prove too soon.

Con­trol

Owen Coyle’s troops have had an in­dif­fer­ent start to the sea­son so far, rack­ing up four points from their open­ing three games since their Com­mu­nity Shield de­feat against Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons Manch­ester United ear­lier in Au­gust.

That 2-0 de­feat at Wem­b­ley was McClean’s first com­pet­i­tive start for Wi­gan, but he’s keen to im­prove in the bread and but­ter of the Cham­pi­onship.

“If we start well and hope­fully get an early goal then I think we can push on from there,” added the Repub­lic of Ire­land in­ter­na­tional.

“Es­pe­cially with us be­ing at home we need to take con­trol of the game from the off.

“We need to keep our tempo up and main­tain it bet­ter than we did on Tues­day against Bournemouth.

“We’ve been mov­ing the ball well go­ing for­wards and we need to make our chances pay off.

“There are no easy games in this league, say­ing that there are no easy games in football th­ese days.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

THREAT: Wi­gan’s James McClean shoots at goal

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