Why Wigan Athletic's line-up against Burnley will have added significance

Gary Roberts
Gary Roberts

Gary Roberts expects the final pre-season friendly against Burnley to prove to be a massive pointer ahead of Wigan Athletic’s big Championship kick-off.

Latics have one more run-out, against the Premier League Clarets, to fine-tune ahead of next Saturday’s all-important visit of Cardiff City.

And Roberts reckons this will be close to being a full dress rehearsal, with players desperate to give boss Paul Cook one last nudge for inclusion.

“I think with the last game of pre-season, you’re gearing up and getting in shape to face Cardiff in the opening game of the campaign,” Roberts told the Wigan Post.

“I would have thought the manager will probably pick as close to the team as he’ll be looking to put out – that’s what normally happens anyway.

“We’ve not got a massive squad at the moment, but we’re all working tremendously hard and hoping to get ourselves in there.

Latics go into the game having held fellow Premier League outfit Everton 0-0 in midweek.

Indeed, it was Latics who came closer to taking the spoils, only for England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to pull off a fabulous save to deny Josh Windass.

“I thought it was a good performance to be fair,” acknowledged Roberts.

“We knew they’d have a lot of the ball, but we knew we could hurt them with our pace on the break.

We created two or three good chances, which maybe we should have scored – including one from me – and they didn’t have a shot on target all night.

“All in all it was a good test, and we came through unscathed which was the main thing.”

For lifelong Everton fan Roberts, the opportunity of scoring against his heroes would have been something to savour.

“The shirt was coming off if that had gone in!” laughed the 35-year-old.

“All my mates in the crowd are Evertonians, so I would have made a beeline for them!

“It was a good game though, and we got a lot out of it.”