Latics return has been ‘Brucey bonus’!

Alex Bruce
Alex Bruce

Alex Bruce admits it was a sense of ‘unfinished business’ that caused him to make a shock return to bolster Wigan Athletic’s promotion push this term.

The 33-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Wigan from Premier League outfit Hull, but made only two appearances due to fitness issues.

After being released by the Tigers over the summer, Bruce assessed his options before joining Bury on a short-term deal, and even scored for the Shakers during their 4-1 defeat at the DW at the end of August.

However, that was his final appearance in a Bury shirt, before he moved on and signed a one-year deal with Latics on transfer deadline day.

And despite enduring a frustrating previous spell, he says he had no hesitation in putting his hand up for a second bite at the cherry.

“I felt like I had a bit of unfinished business here,” Bruce told the Wigan Post.

“I came here last season after a long injury lay-off, didn’t really get the minutes on the pitch I would have wanted.

“I’ve had to be patient with my opportunities so far, with the lads who’ve been playing so well.

“But fingers crossed over the next few games I can chip in and show what I can do.”

Bruce has once again been forced to play a largely watching role, with his three appearances this term coming during Chey Dunkley’s suspension for his sending-off against Portsmouth in August.

And the veteran defender revealed he’s been doing everything he can behind the scenes to work his way back in to the side.

“I’ve even been knocking on the gaffer’s door to be honest!” Bruce smiled.

“I understand what it’s like when players come in and play well.

“But I also felt I played well when I came into the side, and I’m ready when needed.

“The manager’s shown he’s not afraid to chop and change, and freshen up the squad when he sees fit.

“The games are coming thick and fast, and you’ve got to be ready to take your chance.”

Latics have made a near-faultless start so far, with their tally of 28 points their highest at the 12-game mark since being admitted to the Football League in 1978.

Bruce, however, is not about to get carried away.

“We’ve had a great start, and it’s important we try and maintain that momentum,” he acknowledged.

“We’re coming into the tricky start of the season now, as I like to call it, where the weather and the pitches start changing.

“It’s the ‘ugly’ part of the season, where you’ve got to grind out results.

“We’ve done well after 12 games – hopefully after the next 12 games we’ll still be where we want to be.

“I think we’ve got a good squad here, with plenty of strength in depth and competition for places.

“We showed at Scunthorpe on Saturday – with international players away and a couple of injuries – we can keep getting the results.

“You’ve just got to stay confident, while also remembering what wins you football matches.

“It’s about doing the basics right, not getting carried away, realising you’ve got a job to do and keeping level heads.

“There’s peaks and troughs all the way through, and it’s important we keep calm through the ups and downs.”

Bruce also revealed his dad, Steve, is in regular contact, to see how things are going at a club he spent two spells in charge at.

“I speak to my dad every day – he’s always there to give advice if and when I need it,” Bruce junior added.

“Obviously this is a club that’s very close to his heart as well.

“Having spent some great times here, and obviously he keeps an eye out for their results.

“Who knows, maybe we’ll be playing against Aston Villa next year!

“They’re obviously aiming to get into the Premier League, but it would be nice to take them on next year.”