REECE James admits he is looking over his shoulder as Latics stars jostle for places in the squad – despite enjoying a solid run of form.
The 21-year-old, who joined Latics from Manchester United last summer, has played his part in a steady upward curve for Latics which has seen Gary Caldwell’s men stay unbeaten in their last nine outings and force their way into the League One play-off places.
It shows how good the squad is that people are right in there ready to take your place at any pointReece James
And despite hailing a strong team spirit which James says is the “best squad” he’s been involved in, the defender admits he is willing to fight for his place.
“I want to pay in every game that I can and at the moment I’ve been doing that,” he said.
“But it shows how good the squad is that people are right in there ready to take your place at any point so if you’re not performing that will happen.
“You have lads coming on off the bench doing well and itching to get into your spot.
“It’s good because you are still pushing for confidence as well and they are helping you with that even though they are after your spot.
“That’s how good of a group of lads we have at this club.”
Ahead of Latics’ clash with Swindon on Saturday, where they will look to preserve an unbeaten home league record this term, James reflected on last weekend’s draw at Bradford, and how the disappointment of not bagging all three points is a sign of how far the squad has come.
“It’s a bit disappointing that we didn’t get the three points at Bradford because it would have been a great nine points but still, seven points from those three games was a really good performance for us,” he said.
“We started a little bit slow but that was bound to happen with the new players we have brought in over the summer.
“You can see things are starting to click.
“It started at Colchester with the 5-0 and then we took it into the game at Peterborough (a 3-2 win) which was a difficult game because they had a really good side out.”
But James admits there is still improvement to be found despite a tough test last weekend, and is confident of getting the job done this coming weekend.
“At times we played some great football and we just needed to have that final pass to slide someone in to secure the win,” he explained. “We couldn’t quite come up with it, but we’ll kick on and go again next weekend against Swindon.
“When we’re going away from home against a team like Bradford – who are the opposite of what we like to play – it’s tough.
“We’ve stood up to the challenge until they’ve got their goal – it’s just unfortunate we conceded one in the second half.”
Without a midweek game to contend with, Latics have the week to prepare for the visit of 23rd-placed Swindon, knowing a win could launch them above Coventry in fourth place should other results go their way.
“It’s a good time for us to get some rest now with no midweek game,” said James.
“We’ll have a good week’s training, get some good preparation done and get ready for a good win against Swindon.”