Wigan Athletic striker Garner believes ‘15 or 16 sides have play-offs ambitions’

Joe Garner in action at Loftus Road
Joe Garner in action at Loftus Road

Joe Garner is hopeful that this new Wigan Athletic side can gel quickly and improve on last season’s 18th-placed finish.

Garner, 31, returned from a rib injury to play the full 90 minutes of Wigan’s 3-1 defeat at QPR on Saturday.

The striker missed the Carabao Cup exit to Stoke and defeats to Leeds and Middlesbrough after being forced off at old club PNE in the second game of the season.

But despite returning to the starting line-up Garner could not stop Paul Cook’s side slipping to a fifth straight defeat.

Though before the QPR trip the recovering forward was in a positive mood.

It is just over a year since the Blackburn-born forward returned to the North West and made the switch from Ipswich to join the Latics.

Garner left PNE for Glasgow Rangers in 2016 before moving to Ipswich and now Latics.

The forward has enjoyed his time at the club so far and is looking forward to more.

The Latics made 11 permanent signings in the summer and three loan moves with Garner hopeful that the class of 18/19 can gel quickly and end this run.

He said: “I had a year in Glasgow and a year in Ipswich so to get back home it has been nice to see the family, friends and that.

“I’m really happy to be back home and playing at a great club.

“It is a really good club. The facilities and staff are brilliant.

“We have brought a few new faces in this year and hopefully we can gel quick and push on up the league.”

The Latics remained in the second tier of English football for the first time in three attempts last term as Cook steered the Latics to 18th in the table.

And Garner says the Championship is that competitive a league that 15 or more teams will believe they can battle it out in the top half of the table.

And Garner is hopeful Wigan can better last season.

He said: “I think there are probably 15, 16 teams that think they can finish in the play-offs.

“It is a tough league. Hopefully we can get up into the top half and improve on last year.”

Latics will be looking to kickstart their campaign when they welcome Barnsley this Saturday before a break for internationals.