Striking conundrum for Joyce
Warren Joyce hopes he's added two more strikers to his Wigan Athletic squad - six weeks before the transfer window opens.
The Latics boss sprung a major surprise before Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Barnsley, leaving all three of his recognised strikers - Craig Davies, Adam Le Fondre and top scorer Will Grigg - on the bench to pair Nick Powell with Yanic Wildschut.
While the new-look partnership had to be shelved after half-an-hour, when Powell limped off with a hamstring injury, Joyce believes it’s a plan that’s worth revisiting in the future.
“If you watch Yanic in training...I opened a game up last Saturday morning in-house, it finished 6-5 and he scored a hat-trick,” revealed Joyce.
“It’s not the kind of game you really want to have, but we wanted a free-flowing environment - and he was clinical and a real handful.
“He’s got a lot of talent, he’s got a lot of pace, he’s got a lot of trickery, and awareness as well in tight situations.
“They are the kind of situations where you’d be expecting him to score one (at Barnsley).”
Joyce, who worked with Powell at Manchester United, is also adamant the 22-year-old’s future lies as a frontman rather than his more recognised midfield berth.
“I view Nick as a striker...as a striker, he has certain qualities where he understands what I want him to do,” admitted Joyce who also explained the thinking behind replacing Powell with left-back Luke Garbutt, which resulted in Michael Jacobs being pushed further forward.
“The others, within the club, it would have been different...at that stage of the game...it’s knowing that they’ve got that within them during a game.
“I’m still learning about the other players, if they understand what we wanted Powelly to do.
“It was as simple as that really.
“We know that, while Jacobs is a midfield player, he can still do the things, not quite the same as Powelly, but in sort of similar positions.
“I see them as quite similar players really, one slightly more attacking and one slightly more defensive.
“But those two are our ideal sort of No.10s.”
Having been forced to waste another substitution when goalkeeper Adam Bogdan pulled up lame on the hour mark, Joyce also revealed why he plumped for Davies as his final change rather than Le Fondre or Grigg.
“You just looked at the set-plays they were putting on, and fizzing balls in under the bar,” added the Latics boss.
“We’d already lost Nick, who is one of the best headers of a ball we’ve got, and we know we hadn’t got loads of people who are good at heading the ball.
“We were just looking for two centre-backs to be heading the ball out, and by and large they did.
“But in the last 10 minutes, sometimes you just need to give them a little bit of help to do that.
“The other thing about Craig is we’ve also had a couple of practice games this week, the reserves played the first team in one, it finished 1-0, and Craig scored a great goal.
“He’s impressed me in training, as has Le Fondre, who has been tremendous, whereas Will has been away on international duty, so you’re not really aware of what kind of fitness level he’s at.
“Looking at the other players, I know exactly where they’re at.
“Will only came back on the Thursday, on Friday we got hailstoned in so we weren’t even able to train.”