Talking football: Meet the newbies!

Omar Bogle
Omar Bogle

Deadline-day fever hit Wigan Athletic on Tuesday, with Warren Joyce swooping for no fewer than EIGHT new signings in a manic 12-hour period, to bolster the squad for the run-in. Here we look at the new-boys who will hopefully help Latics kick away from the relegation mire – starting on Friday night against Sheffield Wednesday.

Goalkeeper Matt Gilks set the ball rolling on deadline day, joining on an 18-month deal from Scottish giants Rangers.

He says a few words of advice from Wigan’s reigning player of the year David Perkins helped make up his mind to return south.

“I’ve known Perks for a long time,” Gilks explained. “We’ve stayed in touch since we played together at Rochdale, and we know what each other are about.

“I am sure he has been asked by the manager about me and I hope he gave positive feedback!

“I know most of the lads from throughout my playing career, so when you move around you tend to know certain players that are at clubs anyway so it makes slightly easier to fit in.”

Gilks wil provide competition for Jakob Haugaard and Jussi Jaaskelainen, something which he’s looking forward to.

“I know Jussi very well,” he added. “I actually started training at Euxton with him when I was a young lad at Rochdale and he was at Bolton.

“Young Jakob has come in and done very well too, so it’s a good bit of competition all round, and the goalkeeping department I feel looks strong

now.”

Signing number two, James Weir, says the lure of working with Warren Joyce was the main reason he dropped out of the Premier League to aid Wigan’s relegation battle.

The Hull midfielder joined on loan for the rest of the season, after previously working with the Latics boss during their time at Manchester United.

“I know the manager well having worked with him for four years, so we know each other really well,” revealed Weir.

“The manager knows me, I know him, I like working with him, I did when I was at United, and hopefully we can be successful.

“I moved to Hull last summer, I’ve been there for five months and enjoyed it, but I haven’t got the games I wanted, so I’ve come to Wigan hopefully to get that.”

He is also looking forward to renewing acquaintances with some of his former United team-mates.

“I know a few lads here – Nick Powell, Andy Kellett and Reece James to name but a few – so it will be good to come and reconnect with some of them,” he added.

“I can play anywhere in midfield, I like to get goals and assists and try and be creative. I’ll work as hard as I can and try and enjoy it.”

The son of two-time former Latics boss Steve Bruce, centre-back Alex made it a hat-trick of deadline-day arrivals.

The big man arrived from Hull on loan until the summer, and can’t wait to get stuck into the task.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of keeping Wigan in the Championship,” he said.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity they have given me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Boss Warren Joyce, who coached Bruce as a kid at United, believes the 32-year-old has a big part to play at the DW.

“Alex knows this division inside out,” acknowledged Joyce. “He is street-wise and understands exactly what we need over the next three months.”

Striker Mikael Mandron was a surprise signing from non-league Eastleigh, on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

But the 22-year-old is determined to play his part in improving Wigan’s standing as the lowest goalscorers in the Championship.

“I am a goalscorer and a target man,” he revealed. “I like to play down the middle, and get on the ball and play as part of the build-up and link up with other players.”

After coming through the ranks at Sunderland, he feels a spell in non-league has helped to harden him up as a player and a man.

“At Eastleigh, I had to adapt to a different type of football and another league and I learnt a lot there,” he added. “I was able to work on different aspects of my game and I think it will make me grow as a player.

“This is most definitely a step up, but I am always looking for the next challenge, and I can’t wait to play and show everyone what I can

do.”

Former Manchester United winger Gabriel Obertan became signing number five, penning a short-term deal until the end of the season after his release from Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala.

The Frenchman is another with previous ties to Warren Joyce, and he says he can’t wait to resume that particular partnership.

“Warren called me and was a big part of my decision to join the club,” said Obertan. “I’m glad to be here and can’t wait to get started.

“He’s a coach who has always pushed me, I respect him a lot, and hopefully I’ll repay him with my performances this season.

“Warren didn’t lie to me, he told me the situation the club are in, but I’m up for it. Hopefully we’ll move away from the bottom of the table.”

Obertan, who also spent five years with Newcastle, believes he returns to England as a better player.

“I wanted to come back to England to show my true potential,” he added. “All the ingredients for that to happen are here with the right coach and a young team.

“I’m a fast player and I’ve evolved my game slightly to get more shots away at goal. I’m still a tricky player but I’m straight to the point now. I want goals this season.”

Josh Laurent experienced the joy of six when he brought up the half-dozen mark, on a two-and-a-half-year deal from Hartlepool.

“I’m so excited to be here and can’t really put it into words how excited I am,” gushed Laurent, who moved up to Pools after starting his career with spells at Brentford and QPR.

“I didn’t really get the chance to play first-team football down there, so that’s why I decided to move away to find that at Hartlepool.

“I’ve learnt so much from being at Hartlepool. You’re playing for points every week in pressure matches, and I’m hoping to learn even more here.”

Despite stepping up two divisions, the young midfielder is confident he can grasp the challenge with both hands.

“I want to learn from the players and the management staff here,” he added. “I’m going to take every day as it comes and hopefully we can do big things together.

“The manager told me that I need to be hungry and willing to work hard every day, and if I manage to do that then my ability will come out.”

Striker Omar Bogle brought up a magnificent seven January signings when his move from Grimsby was announced just after the 11pm cut-off.

Bogle has banged in 19 goals so far this season in League Two, and is looking to hit the ground running in the Championship.

“I’m buzzing to get the move done, I’m joining a massive club,” he recognised.

“There’s been lots of speculation and lots of different phone calls, but in the end I’m where I want to be and I couldn’t be happier.”

Bogle, whose goals helped fire Town into the Foootball League last season, is adamant he can find the net in the second tier.

““I’m quite a direct player who has attributes in every area,” he revealed. “I’m quick, strong, put myself about a bit, and have the ability to really beat players.

“I’m ready for the challenge of stepping up to the Championship.

“It’s a new environment for me playing against bigger teams and the standard will be higher, but I’m definitely ready.”

Just when everyone was packing up and going to bed with the clock ticking past midnight, Latics had one more surprise up their sleeve.

It arrived in the form of Ireland Under-21 midfielder Jack Byrne, who joined on a three-and-a-half-year deal from Manchester City.

“Warren Joyce played a huge part in me joining this club,” he revealed. “His record at Manchester United speaks for itself and when, I spoke to him, I got a really good feel for the club.”

Latics also owe old-boy James McClean a debt of gratitude for putting a good word in.

“I know James very well and I spoke to him before coming here,” added the Dubliner. “He couldn’t speak highly enough of the club and he gave me a good feel when I spoke to him. I’m a small, technical player, who likes to get on the ball, and I’ll always look to find a pass be that in the first minute or the last.”