Gary Caldwell has revealed Wigan Athletic’s brutal pre-season programme is taking its toll on squad numbers.
The Latics chief admitted after Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Macclesfield that fatigue was partly to blame for the side having failed to win or even score a goal in their five matches to date.
In addition to a punishing schedule of eight matches in just 21 days, Caldwell and his staff have also been pushing the players on the training ground, with double sessions and even drills on the morning of games designed to have them fighting fit for the big kick-off on August 6.
However, there has been inevitable collateral damage along the way, resulting in midfielder Emyr Huws, defender Donervan Daniels and captain Craig Morgan missing out in midweek through injury.
“Emyr has a slight ankle problem that we left him out at Macclesfield with,” Caldwell said.
“Donervon’s knee was a bit swollen after the Manchester United game on Saturday, and again that was just precautionary.
“Craig also has a tight groin, but these things happen because of the things we’re doing in training, and we don’t want to risk anything.”
Caldwell underlined his belief that flogging the players now will reap the greatest rewards when the action starts for real at Bristol City two weeks tomorrow.
“It’s a really intense programme,” acknowledged Caldwell.
“It’s not as if we’re easing off because of the games coming thick and fast.
“On top of the games, there’s also training as well, and we’re still doing double-days, and working on the day of games.
“But it’s all geared towards getting them ready for the start of the season.”
Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce’s imminent appointment as England manager was discussed at yesterday’s Football Association board meeting, leaving only final negotiations between the 61-year-old and his dream job. The FA’s three-man selection panel, consisting chief executive Martin Glenn, vice-chairman David Gill and technical director Dan Ashworth, presented the findings of their three-week search to the rest of the board at Wembley and explained why Sunderland boss Allardyce had been selected as Roy Hodgson’s successor.
Former Wigan boss Steve Bruce, who was interviewed earlier this week, Eddie Howe and Jurgen Klinsmann are the other names to have been seriously considered by the trio, while Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger gave no indication he would be willing to accept.
All that now stands between Allardyce and the role he first pitched for a decade ago, when he lost out to Steve McClaren, is the completion of personal terms and a compensation package for the Black Cats.
Outgoing FA chairman Greg Dyke said: “Clearly the three-man group are convinced he’s the right man and I go along with that, yes.”