Lang to get chance with first senior start
Callum Lang could make his first senior start for Wigan Athletic at Grimsby this afternoon.
And a continuation of his sparkling pre-season could see him - in the seeming absence of Omar Bogle - playing a major role when the season proper kicks-off next weekend.
With Bogle training away from the first team over at Christopher Park, and speculation linking him with a move away from the DW Stadium, Lang has moved up the pecking order.
Will Grigg is also hoping to feature at Blundell Park, but he hasn’t played for the first team since early March after sustaining a serious knee injury.
It’s hardly been the perfect preparation for the new season as far as boss Paul Cook is concerned.
But Cook believes Lang has the perfect mentor to guide him to stardom in Noel Hunt, who has been on trial with Latics over the summer.
Lang, 18, scored his first goal in Latics colours last weekend in the pre-season win at Notts County, tapping home an inviting cross from Hunt, playing as a trialist.
The introduction of the duo off the bench on the hour mark turned the game Wigan’s way, after a difficult first hour.
And boss Cook reckons Lang will continue to improve if he listens to his veteran colleague, who is hoping to earn a short-term deal at the DW.
“Callum gets in there to score goals,” Cook told the Wigan Post.
“The ball goes down the flank at Notts County, and I know Noel Hunt is going to cross it.
“If you’re a team-mate of his, you’ve got to believe he’s going to do that, and you’ve got to get in there to score a goal.
“Callum does that, and he’s had a great pre-season in general.”
As far as Lang is concerned, he’s just focused on continuing his gradual improvement and seeing where it takes him.
“I’m just going to concentrate on putting in a shift and we’ll see what happens,” the Latics academy product acknowledged.
“Obviously it’s everyone’s aim to get into the team, but the manager’s shown he’s willing to give everyone a chance.
“Everyone’s had a clean slate since he’s come in, and that’s great for all the young lads like myself.
“It’s been a big step-up from the junior ranks – especially in terms of strength and pace.
“But I feel we’ve all dealt with it really well.”
Lang’s maiden goal for Latics was made even more special by the presence of a couple of family members in the Meadow Lane crowd.
“I was saying to my dad and my grandad before the game that it was a bit of a risk them going all that way,” smiled Lang, who also played a key role in the first goal when his cross was bundled into his own net by County skipper Richard Duffy.
“But fair play to them, and they were very glad they did come!
“For the first goal, the own goal, credit to Nathan Byrne for the ball down the line to me.
“I’m just trying to pick somebody out, and it’s gone in for an own goal.
“For the second goal, Hunty’s always telling me that when he gets the ball to get in the box.
“That’s all I’ve done, and it’s worked out.
“Even on the bench he’s always giving little tips, talking to you, and it gives you a lot of confidence.”