Talking football: Six things to look forward to in 2017...

Warren Joyce
Warren Joyce

Football correspondent Paul Kendrick looks forward to another eventful year of covering Latics in prospect, and picks out half a

dozen of the potential highlights

1 The January transfer window

The last few transfer windows have seen a revolving-door policy at the DW, with Gary Caldwell not missing the opportunity to shuffle his pack. It remains to be seen whether new boss Warren Joyce will do likewise - league position suggests that he has to, but money will be tighter than in the past due to parachute payments ending next summer.

2 Yanic Wildschut running down the wing...unless...

The form of Yanic Wildschut has been a beacon of light during a difficult first half of the campaign at the DW. The Dutchman - a fans’ favourite from virtually the day he arrived from Middlesbrough - has a major role to play if Latics are to escape the drop. The vultures are already rumoured to be circling...it’s vital Latics keep them at bay.

3 Can the real Nick Powell stand up...please...

How do you solve a problem like Nick Powell? It’s a conundrum that’s even stumped the great Sir Alex Ferguson. There’s never been any doubt that Powell, now 22, has all the ability in the world. Which makes the lack of progress he’s made in the four-and-a-half years since he left Crewe a complete mystery. If Warren Joyce - his old mentor in the Manchester United reserve ranks - can get the best out of Powell, he could be the best January ‘signing’ in the country.

4 Will Grigg catching fire again

The Will Grigg story was one of the most remarkable of 2016. An amazing 21 goals in 23 games saw him fire Latics to the League One title - winning the Golden Boot in the process - and book his place in the Northern Ireland squad at Euro 16. It spawned a legendary Latics terrace anthem, as well as a top-10 hit in the charts. The lack of a pre-season - as well as injuries, illness and becoming a new dad - has limited his effectiveness so far this term. But if Will Grigg can reignite, Championship defences will certainly be terrified...

5 Newcastle away on April 1

The return derby against Preston on February 18 will have been ringed on a few Latics calendars, but the trip to Newcastle is looking like being the stand-out away-day experience of 2017. A Premier League outfit in all-but status, the Toon have coped well with being the biggest scalp in the division to date. Latics, though, don’t have a bad record on Tyneside, while the night out is reputed to be up there with the best in the UK.

6 And if it all goes badly...there’s always summer...

Hopefully the second half of the campaign follows the script from last season, when Latics proved unstoppable, rather than the previous campaign, when they couldn’t buy a win. Don’t get me wrong, last year’s League One adventure was brilliant. I’ll be honest, though, the press food doesn’t compare to the Championship. So here’s to a few more years in the second tier. Otherwise the only thing we have to look forward to is summer...