MCCLEAN’S READY TO FIRE AGAIN
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.
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.
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.”
THREAT: Wigan’s James McClean shoots at goal