Wigan Athletic return home today following their weeklong stay at Bad Bleiberg in Austria where the squad have been put through their paces, played two friendlies and been given the chance to spend some bonding time together as a group before the big kick-off two weeks today.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez has been delighted with how the preseason has gone so far and says that the players are at exactly the point where the coaching staff want them to be and now is the time to change the emphasis in the training schedules.
With fitness being the main objective that has now been achieved Martinez has revealed that the players need to be sharpened up and this is what the they enjoy most, something to look forward to then following on from the hard slog and daily grind of endurance training.
Martinez is also pleased that the squad are carrying no injuries, though it does appear that both Maynor Figueroa and Antolin Alcaraz are being eased back into it after their world cup exploits so as not to aggravate any niggles and have them both fresh for the seasons start.
With two games still to come, Real Zaragoza at the DW Stadium on Wednesday and Dundee United next Sunday up at Tannadice, Martinez is convinced that his squad will hit the ground running on August 14th.
Speaking to the clubs official website Martinez said: ‘We’re in a good place at the moment, with no injuries which is the main priority.
‘The work has been controlled, the players are looking after themselves in between sessions, and now is the time to start slowing down the work in order to sharpen the players up; the kind of work they tend to enjoy a little bit more.
‘Thursday was our 35th session of the pre-season and you can see now that the players are mentally ready for the new season.
‘There are two games still to go and many more sessions as well, but overall we are where we wanted to be at this stage.’
The players have also enjoyed the trip to the Alps and the facilities have been first class leaving them in the right frame mentally for the next stage of the preseason, Latics midfield man Ben Watson explains:
‘The Austria tour as a whole has been excellent for us. The environment, the training and the games have all provided us with the perfect conditions at this time of the season.
‘Now we look forward to Real Zaragoza on Wednesday night when we’ll be even sharper thanks to this tour and I’m sure it’ll be another good test for us.’
With the whole squad making the trip it`s been a good experience for the new players and also some of the young players who are getting their first taste of being around the seasoned pro`s, Latics young centre back Roman Golobart, who spent a good part of his first season at the club injured, is now getting a feel for the place and the Austria trip has been invaluable to him.
He says that just being around players like Emmerson Boyce is good for his development and he is learning lots both on and off the field, Golobart says:
‘It’s nice to be out here in Austria and to be with the first-team learning things off all of them every day.
‘I’ve learnt a lot so far from players such as Boycey and I’m always concentrating on giving the best performance possible for Wigan Athletic.
‘During every game, every training session and off the pitch as well I’m always talking to Boycey and he’s been fantastic in giving me lots of advice and encouragement, setting a good example for me.’
So another preseason tour has come to an end, the Latics will now be gearing up for their opening game against Blackpool but looking back on the past seven days you`d have to say that it`s been a very successful and worthwhile venture.
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