'Show you belong with us', challenges Wigan Athletic boss

Joe Gelhardt and Jensen Weir in Spain
Joe Gelhardt and Jensen Weir in Spain

Paul Cook has challenged Wigan Athletic’s stars of tomorrow to use this week’s training camp in Spain to prove they belong in and around the first-team squad.

Latics are midway through their stay in La Cala, with the squad doing punishing double sessions under the baking sunshine.

Cook admitted earlier this week he was ‘disappointed’ at not having brought in any new signings that could have used this week to integrate into the squad.

But the positive of that is the likes of Joe Gelhardt, Jensen Weir, Charlie Jolley, Alex Perry, Adam Long and Bobby Jones being given the chance to rub shoulders with the first team.

“We all want new signings, we all want to go to summer camps fully prepared,” Cook told the Wigan Post.

“But the likelihood of any team going away to a summer camp fully prepared is nil – because no team has been able to do all their business by this point.

“On the flip side, it does give some of the young lads the opportunity to integrate into the squad.

“And just as importantly, see how physically hard it is with the senior lads at this level.”

Cook has been quick to underline the ‘off-field’ importance of trips such as this.

But he insisted there has been far more hard work than play going on at the resort.

“It’s very tough, people have a preconceived ideas of these trips, and the social nature of them,” he added.

“But you ask Jensen and Joffy (Gelhardt) what it was like on the training ground, and they’ll tell you exactly how hard we’ll be working.

“A few of them dipped their toe into the water at the end of last season against Birmingham and Millwall.

“And this is another opportunity for them to show they belong on this stage.”