McCann will grin and bear the Royal rumble

Chris McCann and Ali Al Habsi

Chris McCann and Ali Al Habsi

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CHRIS McCann admits he’ll once again go through agony this weekend when Wigan Athletic get their Championship campaign under way against Reading.

The 27-year-old is on the verge of a return from five months on the sidelines after fracturing his kneecap at Manchester City in March.

Unfortunately, the start of the season will come just too early for McCann, who was forced to watch on at the end of last term as Latics first of all lost their grip on the FA Cup and then narrowly failed to win promotion back to the Premier League.

That double disappointment has only whetted McCann’s appetite to force his way back into Uwe Rosler’s first-team plans.

And watching his colleagues get their season under way against the Royals at the DW this weekend will only increase his determination to get back out there on the

pitch.

“It’s so hard watching the boys out there and not being able to be part of it,” McCann told the Evening Post.

“Even watching the friendly games over the summer, even though they were only a pre-season friendlies, it’s been hard for me.

“It makes you realise what you’re missing by being injured. When you’re playing every week you kind of take it for granted.

“I’m within touching distance now, though, and before I know it I’ll be back in the squad and helping the team. To be fair, it’s actually gone pretty quickly, thinking back to when it actually happened.

“It was obviously a massive blow at the time, but you’ve no other option other than to take it on the chin and move on. I’ve done that, and I’ve been helped by the medical staff here, they’ve been keeping me upbeat.”

Having undergone gruelling rehab to make it back to the fringe of the first team, McCann is adamant he will not cut any corners and risk undoing any of his hard work.

“Now I’ve come this far the last thing I want to do is rush the past part and break down and set myself back even further,” he acknowledged.

“I’ve not really set myself any specific target, any particular game. It takes as long as it takes.

“I just want to keep the knee nice and quiet, there’s no swelling or anything so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.

“The last thing I want is to get injured again, or not be capable of doing things I know I can do, and not do the team or myself justice.”

McCann is just one of several midfielders who have been unavailable during a far-from-ideal pre-season.

Ben Watson is still on the comeback trail after his broken leg, while James McClean’s ankle problem picked up in training last month will see him miss the big kick-off.

There’s better news concerning new signing Don Cowie, James McArthur and Shaun Maloney, who are all in line to feature on Saturday after overcoming injury.

Roger Espinoza, meanwhile, is still working on his fitness after being granted extra time off over the summer following the World Cup.

Emyr Huws, who this week signed a new long-term deal at Manchester City, could make his debut after joining his new Wigan team-mates on Tuesday morning following his loan arrival.