WILL Grigg is beginning to justify his pre-season billing as the best striker in League One, according to Gary Caldwell.
The Northern Ireland international scored twice last weekend as Latics crashed out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the hands of Barnsley.
That double took his tally to eight for the season - in 14 starts.
And, ahead of today’s visit of Blackpool, manager Caldwell expects there will be more to come as he settles into a rhythm of regular action for his club.
After assessing the quality of strikers across the league he is convinced Grigg - a summer recruit from Brentford - is the most lethal of the lot.
“Will has had a stop-start season with internationals and injury,” said Caldwell.
“But he showed on Saturday if you put the ball in the box, he will score goals and I’ve no doubt he’ll score a lot more.
“He’s the best striker in the league without a doubt - and he’ll go on to prove that in the coming months.”
Caldwell didn’t try and dress up their defeat in the JPT after an agonising penalty shoot-out.
But he put the loss into context, and said any success in the Cup was always going to be secondary to their promotion bid this term.
“It’s been a normal week, we looked at areas we could be better at and we’ve worked hard to put it right,” he said.
“A defeat like that can galvanise the group and they look hungry and ready to push on with the main aim, which is get promotion.”
While it is common place for all managers to make boasts of ‘hard work’, the Scot says he has the figures to prove his squad are putting in strong shifts at their Christopher Park training base - efforts which have convinced him they are in a healthy position.
“Their application in training... the stats we’ve had, have been phenomenal,” he continued.
“The players look hungry.
“The bar has been high since the first day, the players are pushing the standard.
“I’ve never been involved in a team where, to a man - from one to 26 - they’ve had the desire to go and do it.
“You usually get one player who likes to have a moan about working hard, or doesn’t really buy into it, but every one has bought into it and worked their socks off.
“And that’s what gives me belief we can go further.
“Talent is important but you’ve got to have the work-rate and desire, and I’ve seen that plenty of times.”
He planned to select a “similar squad” to last weekend, and he admits it has been difficult to keep the omitted players happy.
“It’s difficult, I don’t think anyone could keep them happy because they’re not involved,” he added. “But it’s up to them to work to get in - it’s about maintaining standards and pushing on, I have to be honest with them, if I wasn’t they could see through that.”