Loan ace relishing Wigan Athletic's return to the Championship

Tom Bayliss admits his year with Wigan Athletic brought only happy memories - whatever the future has in store.

By Paul Kendrick
Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 1:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 1:45 pm

The 24-year-old midfielder made 17 appearances during his season-long loan from Preston North End.

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And he returned to Deepdale with a League One title winners' medal for his trouble, to add to his League Two promotion with first club Coventry.

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Tom Bayliss celebrates with the League One title

Despite not having played as many games as he'd have liked, partly due to injuries, Bayliss was delighted to do his bit in the Latics rebuild.

"The gaffer kept saying everyone played their part, and it was a real squad effort - on and off the pitch," he said.

"I'd love to have played 50-odd games, but I'd like to think I also had a big impact off the pitch as well.

"If you're not playing, it's important to still do your bit, and not sulk at all.

"I'd just like to say a big 'thank you' to the manager and also the fans for the welcome they gave me.

"I've now got a winners' medal from League Two and League One, so hopefully the Championship is the next one!"

Bayliss has one year left on his Preston contract, but has been told he is available for permanent transfer.

It remains to be seen whether Latics will look into the prospect of bringing him back, ahead of their return to the Championship after two years in the third tier.

Whatever happens, Bayliss is happy to see Latics join North End in what will be a real Lancashire hotpot of a division next term.

"It's great to see Wigan back up there in the same division as Preston," Bayliss acknowledged.

"You saw last year in pre-season how much interest there was in the game, and the big crowd that was on.

"There's so many north west teams in the Championship next year, and it should make for some great games and great occasions.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Wigan. The group is so good, there's not a single bad egg in there.

"They recruited so well to put together a group of players that deservedly finished top of the table.

"And I wish them all the best next season."

Bayliss certainly leaves Latics in a lot better shape than when he arrived, and he admits the recovery in fortunes - from being in administration only 15 months ago - has been astonishing.

"To be fair, from the outside looking in, I didn't really know much about the administration at the time," he added.

"I just knew Wigan were a big club, who'd I'd grown up watching in the Premier League, on Match of the Day, and win the FA Cup.

"I knew what they were about, that they were a massive club playing in League One, and to be able to come here - even on loan - was a big move for me.

"The boys made a bit more hard work of getting over the line than we would have liked, it should have been wrapped up with three games to go.

"But we finished the season as champions, and we achieved something that probably no other club has done before.

"For this club to come from where it was last year, in administration, to winning the league the year after, it's incredible for the players, the staff and also the fans."