Ben Amos on pre-season, Spain...and soy sauce in Vegas...
Ben Amos has called on his Wigan Athletic team-mates to rise to the 'massive challenge ahead' as they try to establish themselves back in the Championship.
Latics host Preston on Saturday on their second tier return, after two seasons in League One following administration in 2020.
Ironically, it was victory over North End on Easter Monday, 2019 that secured Latics' safety under Paul Cook, although much has changed on and off the pitch since then.
And Amos - one of the few Latics players with extensive Championship experience, with spells at Peterborough, Hull, Bolton, Cardiff and Millwall - can't wait to get in and among top-quality opposition on a regular basis.
"It's a massive challenge ahead, and we're all looking forward to it," said the former Manchester United junior product.
"Obviously there's some great grounds we're going to be playing at, great atmospheres, great pitches, and that's what you want as a player.
"One thing we can match and hopefully even surpass everyone on is work rate, and we won't be going in there fearing anyone.
Latics have enjoyed an almost-perfect pre-season campaign, with five wins and a draw from six outings.
Amos puts that partly down to a week-long training camp in Spain that allowed the players to refocus their goals.
"It's always good to get away as a group, and most teams will do something similar," he said.
"It was only a week, but to get away with no distractions, literally 24 hours a day it's all about the collective and making sure you're as good and as fit as you can be."
The trip to Spain wasn't the only foreign trip since the end of last term, with the squad enjoying a short break in Las Vegas to celebrate winning the League One title.
During it, Amos' social media account became a 'must-follow', with regular updates from an eventful vacation.
"The manager told us to go and have the time of our lives for five days, and I think some of us might have taken that a little bit too literally...myself included!" he laughed.
"Everyone had a brilliant time, and if you can't celebrate your success with a few days away with the guys who made it possible, when can you?
"I think a lot of people maybe don't get just how important that is, because the game is getting a lot more professional, any drinking culture that existed has gone out of the game.
"But when the time is right, it can be brilliant for teams, and they can go a long way towards building a bond that you'll rely on during a long season."
Footage emerged of Amos – basking in the Vegas sunshine in the luxury hotel pool – unwittingly drinking a shot of soy sauce courtesy of team-mate Callum Lang...which wasn't appreciated by the recipient.
"You never turn your back on Callum Lang, you're never safe around him," he added. "Charlie Wyke's another one, you've got to keep your eyes open at all times..."