Dual aim for Latics ace Grigg
Will Grigg admits he has two major points to prove when he regains full fitness after knee surgery.
Firstly, he has a burning desire to help Wigan Athletic back into the Championship, to prove he has the ability to score goals in the second tier.
And hopefully another goal-den campaign at club level can help Grigg make his mark on the biggest stage of all – next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
Without the injured Grigg, Northern Ireland kept their qualification hopes alive with a last-gasp victory over Azerbaijan in Baku at the weekend.
That leaves the Northern Irish in a strong position in Group C, five points behind leaders Germany but four in front of the third-placed Czech Republic.
And having had the bitter-sweet feeling of making the cut for last summer’s Euros in France, but not getting on to the pitch, Grigg admits he’s got plenty of incentive for fighting his way back into contention.
“The Euros was unbelievable – a strange experience on one hand but a brilliant experience on the other,” he told the Wigan Post.
“If we could achieve qualification for the World Cup, and I could be a part of that, then it would be one of the highlights of my career.”
Grigg appeared off the bench in the corresponding fixture against Azerbaijan last November – a comfortable 4-0 win – with his last cap coming in the friendly defeat to Croatia four days later.
Since then he’s endured a frustrating spell for both club and country, with a knee injury eventually curtailing a campaign that promised so much when it kicked off.
However, he’s confident he’ll be able to maintain a presence on the international stage if he can rediscover his shooting boots at club level.
“Northern Ireland have been in contact, because obviously the injury happened just before the last trip away,” the 25-year-old revealed.
“I spoke to the doctor over there straight away, but I want to stay involved.
“It’s always great to be involved with Northern Ireland and I’ll be trying to get back in the squad as quickly as possible.”
First things first, however, and Grigg is determined to help Latics hit the ground running next term in League One, and win a second promotion in the space of three years.
Grigg’s 29 goals in 2015/16 saw him pick up the Golden Boot and help Latics win the League One title.
It was the third time he’d won promotion from that level, and the third time he’d passed the 20-goal mark.
Having scored just seven times last term - for a number of reasons - he knows the jury is still out in some quarters about whether he can score goals in the second tier.
But the players himself has laughed off the notion he is back at his ‘natural’ level.
“There have been a few question marks over myself as far as the Championship is concerned,” Grigg added.
“You’ll always get people saying that sort of thing, but to say I’m not good enough for the Championship...personally I think is a shambles.
“If anyone had seen the first 15 games of the season or so I think they’d agree.
“And if it takes another year in League One to get back on track then that’s what I’ll do.”