Wigan Athletic: Talking football - 'There's no reason Latics shouldn't be full of hope and belief as they head into the season...'

Well, we're almost there.

Exactly three months after Wigan Athletic picked up the League One title at Shrewsbury, they're preparing to face Preston in their Championship opener at the DW on Saturday.

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No mistakes allowed - Wigan Athletic ace

The first day of the new campaign...always a highlight of the calendar.

Leam Richardson

A day when, for perhaps the only time, every single football fan turns up with a spring in their step, full of optimism, about the nine months that lie ahead.

For the lucky ones, that feeling lasts all season.

For others, not even until half-time.

For Latics, it's a return to the second tier, a level they didn't deserve to be relegated from two years ago.

It's a different team, a different ownership group, in many ways a different club.

One of the few constants, of course, is Leam Richardson, and he represents one of the biggest reasons for buoyancy heading into the new campaign.

Richardson will be the first to acknowledge his squad is not as deep or strong as perhaps he would like ahead of opening day.

Chairman Talal Al Hammad has strongly hinted - via his pens on social media - there will be four more incomings to add to Ryan Nyambe, so hopefully we'll see some movement on that front before the deadline.

Goalkeeping wise, Latics look to be okay, with both Ben Amos and Jamie Jones having proved themselves at this level.

Nyambe's arrival covers the right-back position, and helps to fill the void created by the departure of Gavin Massey.

Latics are clearly one centre-back light on last term, although that could - and hopefully will - easily be rectified by a phonecall to Newcastle and a request for Kell Watts to return for a second season on loan...should the injury he picked up this week not prove to be too serious

Midfield looks to be the main area for scrutiny, with departing loan men Tom Bayliss and Glen Rea having left two spaces in the roster.

January arrival Graeme Shinnie could be the proverbial 'as good as a new signing', having established himself in the Championship with Derby.

But - especially given the continuation of Jordan Cousins' injury problems - at least one more body in there would be welcomed, and avoid too much reliance on Tom Naylor and Max Power staying fit for the majority of the campaign again.

Jordan Jones' loan departure to Kilmarnock opens the door for another wideman, while Richardson will also be on the look-out for another goalscorer to add to his frontline.

Despite the encouraging progress made in recent weeks, it would be dangerous to put too much onus and pressure on Charlie Wyke so soon into his recovery.

Given most of not all of the other clubs would also be interested in signing a goalscorer, that could well be the biggest task of the window.

There's no reason Latics shouldn't be full of hope and belief as they head into the season.

But at the same time - given the way the landscape has changed in even the short time Latics have been out of the Championship - it would be helpful not to place expectations unrealistically high.

Latics have already been bracketed in the bottom quarter of the division by the experts and the bookies.

To come out at the top end of that - and consolidate in one of the toughest leagues in world football - would still represent another huge step forward for a club

still very early in its rebuild.

One thing's for sure...it won't be dull. It never is with this lot.

Strap yourselves in...and Up the 'Tics!