Seven matches that could shape Wigan Athletic's campaign
Paul Kendrick looks through the newly-released 2021-22 fixture list and picks out a magnificent seven fixtures that could prove extra significant...
August 7: Sunderland (a): Latics could scarcely have been handed a tougher assignment to kick off their League One campaign - away to the promotion favourites. The task will be even more difficult given it will be a new-look Latics side thrown together over the summer months. It would be unwise to read too much into the result - but Leam Richardson will be hoping for a repeat of last season's 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light.
August 14: Rotherham (h): The first home game of the campaign is always a big event - but even more so given it should see the return of fans to the DW Stadium after a gap of more than 17 months. The Millers will also prove difficult opponents, having only lost their spot in the Championship on the final day of last term, but let's hope the Latics fans make their voices heard to cheer the team on to victory.
September 28: Sheffield Wednesday (h): The Owls are another side who dropped into League One on the final day of last term and, depending on how quickly they can sort out their off-field problems, they could well be challenging at the top end for an immediate return. The clash also marks the 10th game of the campaign, which will hopefully have given Latics enough time to 'gel' - and find their feet in the fledgling division.
October 16: Bolton (a): Fans of both sides will have ringed this one, the first meeting of the sides since Joe Garner set Latics on the way to a 5-2 hammering of the old enemy in March 2019. Having won promotion from League Two last term, the Trotters have been tipped by many as possibles for challenging at the right end of the table again. Latics will travel in numbers hoping to throw a spanner in the works.
December 26: Crewe (a): The short trip to Cheshire kicks off the second half of the campaign, when we'll know a lot more about how real a deal the new-look Latics are. The Railwaymen thrashed Latics on this ground last term, before Leam Richardson's men exacted their revenge in the survival run-in. Which Latics will turn up - on fancy dress day - this time?
April 2: Bolton (h): Hopefully the clash will go a long way towards securing Latics a third promotion in the last four attempts at this level. Could well be the biggest crowd of the season, given the short proximity to Horwich, and Wanderers could also be jostling for a top-six spot to add further spice.
April 23: Ipswich (a): Easter usually proves to be a pivotal weekend in the campaign, and an Easter trip down to Portman Road doesn't look the most appealing on paper. Paul Cook will be welcoming Latics - and Leam Richardson - for the first time since parting company, with the Tractor Boys also hoping to be there or thereabouts by this point.