SHAUN Maloney insists Latics need only a touch of fine-tuning before they’ll be ready to face European champions Chelsea in the big Premier League opener on Sunday week.
Latics surrendered their unbeaten pre-season record at the weekend when they went down 2-0 to Real Mallorca at the DW Stadium.
It was hardly the way new-boy Ivan Ramis wanted to kick-off his career in England, as his old team-mates took advantage of a below-par second-half display from the hosts to secure victory.
Maloney, though, prefers to look at the bigger picture, and believes Latics are nearly where they want to be on the eve of the big kick-off.
“It was a tough game against Mallorca, which we wanted, and there is certainly room for improvement before the start of the season,” he told the Evening Post.
“On a personal level it was good to get 90 minutes under my belt, but I definitely have to improve in a few areas and so do the team as a whole.
“The good thing is we have another couple of weeks before the big kick-off, we know where we need to improve and we’ve got time to do that.”
Roberto Martinez has only one more pre-season hit-out –Sunday’s trip to Celta Vigo – to knock his troops into shape for the visit of Chelsea.
The emphasis will once again be more on boosting fitness levels than coming away with the right result, but Maloney believes that affords another opportunity for every player to show what they can do.
“We’ve got real competition for places now, and it’s something you need if you’re to compete at the highest level,” the Scotland international added.
“Everyone obviously wants to play every week, but it’s a long season and there will times when you don’t play as much as you’d like.
“That could be down to a loss of form or the manager trying out something new, but you’ve just got to be ready to play when required.”
Meanwhile, Stoke winger Jermaine Pennant has denied he is on his way to Wigan, despite the Potters lining up a deal for Wolves’ Michael Kightly.
“I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve heard anything about me and Wigan,” he tweeted.
“I even spoke to my agent on Monday night – chit chat – and he never mentioned a thing either, so have no idea where you’ve heard that from, just rumours probably because we are getting Kightly.”