Wigan Athletic old-boy will fire again - Caldwell

Gary Caldwell is adamant former Wigan Athletic striker Will Grigg will come good at Sunderland.
Will Grigg scores the goal at Doncaster that clinched the 2017-18 League One title.Will Grigg scores the goal at Doncaster that clinched the 2017-18 League One title.
Will Grigg scores the goal at Doncaster that clinched the 2017-18 League One title.

The Northern Ireland international has struggled to replicate his Latics form since moving to the north east in January 2019 for a fee that could rise to £4million.

His return of eight goals in 49 games is nowhere near his prolific record with Latics, which saw him net 65 times in 150 appearances - and collect two League One titles.

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However, he also took time to settle in at Wigan, and Caldwell – who paid Brentford £1million for his services in the summer of 2015 – believes Grigg will eventually find his feet at Sunderland.

“When he first came, I think it was similar to when he first arrived at Sunderland – we’d paid quite a bit of money for him and he was our marquee signing, so there was a bit of pressure on him,” Caldwell said.

“He had a couple of niggly injuries which didn’t help.

“He hurt his wrist and had to wear a cast for a bit, which stopped him training and that probably set him back.

“But we also struggled to work out what he needed as a striker.

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“At first I felt maybe he needed a partner so we played him in a (front) two.

“But the more we worked with him and got to know him and got to understand what he needed we then went to playing with a number 10 who could supply him balls down the side of defenders, and two wingers who can put crosses in the box.

“Once we worked that out and understood what Will needed to show off his talents, after Christmas he was phenomenal.

“His goals were the difference for getting us promotion.

“Even before that, to be fair to him, when he wasn’t scoring goals, he was still a fantastic player for the team, always worked hard, pressed from the front and always put a shift in.

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“So I can only say good things about Will and I loved working with him.”

Caldwell also believes the timing of Grigg’s mid-season move – and the fact he wasn’t fully fit when he switched clubs – added to the situation.

“It wasn’t easy for him, and it didn’t just happen straight away,” Caldwell told Sunderland Live. “You have to work players out and you have to give players time to be successful.

“I did think when Sunderland signed him in the January it might be difficult.

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“I always believe a January transfer, it’s difficult for a player to come in and get firing straight away.

“When they signed him I was a bit sceptical of how good he would be for the rest of that season.

“But I did believe after a pre-season he’d get to know his team-mates and get going.

“It’s taken a bit longer than that, but I have total belief that he will get goals for Sunderland.

“If given time and the correct ammunition, I’ve no doubt whatsoever that he could still be successful for Sunderland."