Owen Coyle says the last six weeks have ‘flown by’ since his arrival at the club and that excitement levels couldn’t be higher as Latics prepare to kick off the new season against Barnsley this weekend.
Speaking in his first pre-match press conference as Manager, Coyle praised the efforts of the players, fans and staff since his appointment and stressed the importance of a collective effort in helping the club achieve its aim of promotion this season:
“It’s been around six weeks since I came into the club,” said Coyle,“and roughly four weeks since the players returned for pre-season training, but the time has absolutely flown by and to be honest it’s been a bit of a whirlwind with the amount of new players coming in.
“But the application of everyone at the club from the players to the staff and the fans has been tremendous and we’re going to need that positivity and togetherness throughout the campaign.
“We’ve got a great number of fans travelling to Oakwell this weekend which is brilliant, and now it’s up to the players to go out there and repay the fans for the wonderful backing we’ve had.
“We’re a united club and the collective effort that has impressed me so much is vital to what we want to achieve.”
Coyle admitted he will be keeping a close eye on one or two of his players in the build-up to the game at Oakwell, but has been delighted with the application of his entire squad which has been strengthened this week by the arrival of Honduras international Juan Carlos Garcia.
Coyle said: “Thankfully Juan’s VISA application went through relatively quickly and has meant he will be able to meet up with his new team mates today (Thursday) ahead of Saturday’s game.
“He’s done a lot of travelling over the last week so it’s important we give him time to settle, integrate him with the players and assess where he is in terms of fitness just in case Saturday comes too soon for him.
“All the boys have worked their socks off in training, physically and mentally they’re feeling great and they’ve given me some tough decisions to make when considering the starting eleven for Saturday.
“Thomas (Rogne) has been recovering well this week and we’re still being careful with Callum McManaman who, if you remember, started pre-season with an injury picked up against Arsenal in May.
“We don’t want to do anything that could prove detrimental to the players’ fitness and there are one or two players who come under that umbrella, but we’ll assess everything over the next couple of days and make the right decisions when it comes to naming the team.
“Everyone has made a claim for a place in the team which is credit to their efforts and determination, and everyone wants to make the right start to what will be a long hard season.
“It won’t be easy because Barnsley are a strong side, and one of the form teams from the final stages of last season’s Championship.
“They’ll get good backing from their fans at home so we need to make sure we’re at our very best to stand up and be counted, earning the right to play our football, be pleasing on the eye and, ultimately, win games.”