Assistant manager Leam Richardson admits he was never in any doubt Will Grigg would rediscover his goal-den touch after the Wigan Athletic striker scored in the league for the first time in almost a year during the 3-0 win over Bristol Rovers.
Grigg was making only his second league start of the campaign, after recovering from a serious knee injury that prematurely curtailed his involvement last term.
His last league goal had come on September 27 last year against Wolves, since when he’s cut largely a frustrated figure due to niggling problems and being asked to play an isolated role under Warren Joyce.
But after proving his fitness, and doubling the Latics lead at the start of the second period, Grigg is now in a position to show fans what they’ve missed over the last 12 months.
“I was unaware he hadn’t scored for so long, I don’t really look at stats for good players,” said Richardson.
“I just see good players as good players.
“In training Will’s been banging them in with ease.
“He’s getting his chances - he had a few chances even before his goal.
“Some people probably forget he’s had a very bad injury, and you look at the length of time he’s been away from the pitch.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he scored today because he’s such a quality striker.
“I watch Will work hard on a daily basis, and I’ve never once doubted his ability.
“Sooner or later, you’re going to get lucky, you’ll get your rewards, and he did today.
“It doesn’t concern me how long Will Grigg’s not scored for, because I know for a fact Will Grigg will be up there with the top goalscorers in the league come the end of the season.”
Richardson, delegated for media duties by Paul Cook, was also delighted with Gavin Massey, after the forward grabbed his third goal in the space of four days - having bagged a brace at Charlton in midweek - to complete the win in stoppage-time.
“Gavin’s work-rate is fantastic, and he’s slotted in to the squad and the team very well,” enthused Richardson.
“Certainly today he deserved his goal based on the amount of work he does.
“On a personal level I’m made up for him for what he’s served up both today and last Tuesday.
“And in general, we’re all very pleased with the result and the performance.
“We had to work hard for that, coming on the back of a fast game on Tuesday night at Charlton, against a good Bristol Rovers team.
“They made us work for it, but it was a very pleasing day for us.”
Despite dominating for the vast majority of the 90 minutes, the lead at half-time was only 1-0 thanks to Nick Powell’s free-kick on the half-hour mark - following a foul on Michael Jacobs that saw Rovers defender Ryan Sweeney red-carded.
Grigg made it 2-0 five minutes after the restart, but a nervous last 10 minutes was only avoided when, after Lee Evans had been penalised for handball, goalkeeper Jamie Jones pulled off a fantastic penalty save to prevent Ellis Harrison pulling one back.
“Jamie’s another lad who’s come in and worked so hard on a daily basis,” added Richardson.
“He’s got his chance, albeit through injury (to Christian Walton), and he’s performing at a decent level.
“Obviously goalkeepers do a lot of research on stuff like penalties, but I thought he controlled the game well at that end as well.”