Warren Joyce says Will Grigg and Adam Le Fondre have ‘some work’ ahead of them to get back into the Wigan Athletic starting line-up.
The duo have been frustrated onlookers in recent weeks since Joyce took over, with Yanic Wildschut assuming central striking duties in each of the last two matches.
Nick Powell supported Wildschut at Barnsley before picking up a hamstring injury, while Michael Jacobs stepped into the breach at Huddersfield on Monday night.
Indeed, Craig Davies came off the bench to replace Wildschut in both matches, with Grigg not even among the subs at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Joyce says he’s been rewarding those who have impressed him most in training so far, although he assured both Grigg and Le Fondre they remain in his plans.
“Those two are goal poachers, both goalscorers with tremendous records and good success during their careers,” recognised the Latics boss.
“And they’ll certainly be used at this football club.
“I’ve got my own opinions on how near they are to being the best they can be physically as well, fitness-wise.
“They’ve got some work to get themselves going, in my opinion. But they know they’re certainly of use, they’ve both got massive attributes.”
The absence of Grigg in particular has surprised many Latics fans, who saw him bang in 29 goals on the way to the League One Golden Boot last season.
However, Joyce points to a number of factors that explain why he was omitted from the matchday squad on Monday night.
“Will hadn’t trained for two or three days last week, and before that he was obviously away with Northern Ireland,” the Latics chief said. “He hasn’t really done a great deal – it’s a simple as that really.
“If I’m saying it’s important how players train and work every day, how they do the extra things...Craig Morgan, before he played against Barnsley, had been doing everything right, Kaiyne Woolery’s been doing everything right on the training ground, working really hard.
“If you want to reward people for training hard, then you’ve got to do that.
“You’ve got to do things from what you’ve seen in training, and give people a a chance.
“It’s the only way you’ll get everyone flat out. And if there’s a consistency in my views on that, you’ve got to be working your socks off in training, striving to improve, and then you’ll be rewarded for it and get your chance.”
Joyce pointed to Nathan Byrne as a player in a similar boat, who had responded positively to the new regime.
“Nathan hadn’t really been involved, he’d maybe been criticised a little bit, that he could work harder,” Joyce added. “But he worked really hard in training, upped the load, and was able to contribute for quite a period of the game at Huddersfield.
“The fact he couldn’t contribute for the full 90 maybe shows his standards have got to be better, the way he trains.
“But he’s bought into it, he’s pushed himself.”