REECE James reckons Wigan Athletic are discovering the hard way that they are one of the teams to beat this season.
Gary Caldwell’s men have made a sticky start, winning just one of their four League One matches and crashing out of the Capital One Cup at the hands of Bury.
Summer-signing James has seen enough to convince him other sides are raising their games when they face Latics – which they must combat with a thread of consistency.
Given their recent Premier League history and FA Cup victory – and their pre-season billing as favourites for promotion – he says they are one of the scalps of the division.
“The stature we’ve got as a squad, everyone’s going to want to beat us,” the ex-Manchester United reserve said. “Everyone’s going to be up for the game.”
Latics’ 2-0 defeat at Gillingham on Saturday brought them back down to earth following a comprehensive 3-0 home victory over Scunthorpe just four days earlier.
“I’m sure Gillingham would have seen the performance we put in against Scunthorpe and would have been worried with what they saw,” continued James.
“We’ve gone down there and we’ve not been able to play up to that standard, and that is disappointing.
“All we can do is say sorry to the fans who came down with us and weren’t rewarded for making such a long journey.
“It’s good to see that they’re backing us in such numbers, and hopefully we can pull together and get them a good result against Crewe (this Saturday).
“We’ve gone to Gillingham, we’ve tried to play our football on a narrow pitch and it was difficult for us. It’s disappointing, because we went there on the back of a very good win and we’ve not been able to continue it.”
Latics’ start has been hampered by a vast turnover in personnel.
And James – who had loan spells at Rotherham and Huddersfield last season – believes combinations will improve as the campaign unfolds.
The 21-year-old added: “It’s still a work in progress, purely because of the number of new players we’ve got in the squad.
“It’s obviously going to take time to gel, and we showed against Scunthorpe the potential in the group.
“It was such a good performance, we looked so good together, and all the lads are gutted at the way we performed at Gillingham.
“I feel like I’ve settled in well, the lads have been great with me. I was just a bit disappointed with my performance on Saturday, I felt I should have done a lot better.”