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DEVELOPMENT SQUAD HALF SEASON REPORT

PUBLISHED

17:01 8th January 2014

by Nick Taylor

A look back at the first half of the season for the Wigan Athletic Development Squad.

With the Wigan Athletic Development Squad top of the newly named Final Third Development League at the turn of the New Year, we take a look back at the first half of the season.

FLYING HIGH

Just one defeat in the opening six league games of the season sees the Development Squad sitting top of the Final Third Development League ahead of Walsall on goal difference, but with a game in hand.

A convincing three game winning streak at the start of the campaign saw Latics score eight goals without reply as they became early pace setters with impressive victories over Morecambe, Port Vale and Wrexham.

Latics tasted their first defeat in September in an eight goal thriller at Christopher Park, with Walsall claiming a 5-3 win.

With the goals flowing, Latics were quick to bounce back in a 2-1 win away against Shrewsbury Town at Greenhouse Meadow, followed by a 4-1 away win at Tranmere Rovers.

Andres v Preston 820x620Guillermo Andres (pictured right) sits at the top of the goal scoring charts with seven in all competitions, including a hat trick in the 4-0 home victory against Wrexham.

Playmaker Danny Redmond has continued to shine in the team, providing a number of assists and scoring four goals.

Latics haven't played a game in the league since the end of November, but have instead turned their focus towards cup competitions.

UP FOR THE CUP

A semi-final spot in the Lancashire FA Senior Cup was claimed in spectacular and dramatic style back in November in a quarter final, local derby clash with Preston North End as Latics ran out 5-4 winners.

Having been 2-0 up thanks to early goals from Australian striker Patrick Antelmi, Latics found themselves pegged back at half time, before Joey Johnson gave them the lead once more.

Jennings v PNE 820x620Falling 4-3 behind to two quick fire goals from North End after the hour mark the chances of progression seemed to be slipping away, only for substitute Ryan Jennings to assist an equaliser for Guillermo Andres and then fire in the winning goal for 5-4 with just nine minutes remaining.

Latics' involvement in two other cup competitions has so far been mixed.

A 0-0 draw against Burnley in the first ever Under 21 Premier League Cup saw Latics exit in the first round after losing 6-7 on penalties at Turf Moor in October.

In the Central League Cup group stage Latics have so far claimed one victory and one defeat with two games remaining against Morecambe and Carlisle United.

FIRST TEAM IMPACT

The Development Squad has accommodated the return from injury of a number of first team players so far this season, and equally a number of regulars in the side have earned their opportunities in the Championship and the Capital One Cup.

Ramis v Fleetwood 820x620First to make his return to action was Ivan Ramis (pictured right), who had been out for 10 months with a knee injury. He came into the team in two friendlies, but made his mark in the Final Third Development League, scoring a left footed volley in the 4-1 away win at Prenton Park against Tranmere.

Out of competitive action, Ali Al Habsi and Gary Caldwell also stepped up their recoveries in a friendly against Southport, with Al Habsi days later being called in for his first team return against Reading in the Championship.

Caldwell completed just 60 minutes against Southport and continues to work hard in his recovery.

Thomas Rogne, Juan Carlos Garcia and Mike Pollitt have all also featured this season in the Development Squad.

Making the impressive step up into the first team in the 0-0 draw with Charlton Athletic was Lee Nicholls (pictured left), a regular in Latics' second string at the start of the season.

Nicholls v Charlton 820x620The 21-year-old made eight appearances in a row between the sticks due to an injury to Scott Carson, circumstances which saw him introduced just half an hour before kick off at Charlton.

Danny Redmond, Nouha Dicko and Fraser Fyvie all appeared in the Capital One Cup away at Manchester City, with Dicko earning substitute appearances on occasion throughout the campaign so far.

Rob Kiernan recently made his Wigan Athletic debut, coming on as a second half substitute against Burnley.

The 22-year-old followed up his cameo with another substitute appearance against Derby County on New Years Day.

Describing Kiernan in a recent interview, manager Uwe Rosler said:

"Rob is somebody I now consider to be a first team player, he trains very well and I trust in him that he can come into my team at any time."

In addition, 18-year-old Ryan Meadows earned himself a place on the bench for the final Europa League group stage game against NK Maribor.

Following the trip Meadows said in an interview with the matchday programme:

"I was very proud to be representing my home town club, I think it's nice to have a Wigan lad involved in the first team."

OUT ON LOAN

It's been a busy first half of the season for Latics' loan stars, with a total of five players having taken part in spells with other clubs.

Adam Buxton is the latest to join the list, having joined Burton Albion last week for a month long deal.

Kiernan v Burnley 820x620Rob Kiernan (pictured right) made 15 appearances for League Two Southend United before being recalled for first team duties, and Nouha Dicko impressed on loan in League One with Rotherham United, where his six goal haul in six games earned him a recall to fight for a first team place back with Latics.

Fraser Fyvie had a short spell with Yeovil Town, and in the Scottish Championship Rakish Bingham made 12 appearances for Falkirk before returning to Latics at the start of this month.

LOOKING AHEAD

Latics will return to action following a winter break when they travel to Morecambe on Monday 20 January in the Central League Cup.

Carlisle United await two weeks later in the same competition, with two victories enough to guarantee Latics a spot in the next round.

For more information on fixtures and results involving the Development Squad and to read match reports from previous games please [click here].

HIGHLIGHTS

Watch the goals from Latics' 5-2 pre-season friendly win against Barnoldswick Town by [clicking here].

Watch the goals from Latics impressive 4-0 league win against Wrexham by [clicking here].

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