Graham Barrow says it’s ‘vital’ Wigan Athletic hold on to Will Grigg if they are to maximise their chances of bouncing back from the disappointment of relegation.
Barrow couldn’t call on the services of Grigg – last season’s Golden Boot winner in League One – during his nine-game spell as interim manager, with Latics unable to find the goals that could have fired them away from the drop zone.
The Northern Ireland was unavailable after succombing to a knee problem, which capped a hugely-frustrating campaign on a personal level, having been playing catch-up ever since his involvement at last summer’s Euros hampered his pre-season.
Despite a purple patch of six goals in 10 games in August and September, Grigg’s flame gradually petered out as niggling injuries and an increasingly isolated role under Warren Joyce reduced his effectiveness.
However, Barrow feels with the luxury of a break over the summer to recharge the batteries, Grigg has the potential to fire Latics to a second promotion in three seasons.
“It’s vital really that we keep Will,” admitted Barrow.
“And I think we’re quite optimistic – judging from the conversations I’ve had – that we don’t need to sell him or anybody.
“That sort of gets you quite excited, about what could happen. The attacking side of the team looks fine.
“From two years ago, when me and Gary (Caldwell) were looking for 15 players, all of a sudden you’re only needing two, maybe three.
“You’d like to think that would help to get us off to a flying start in League One.”
Grigg should be fit and raring to go for the start of pre-season, having been sidelined since mid-March.
Thankfully the injury has proved to be not as serious as was first feared – which could have seen him ruled out until well into next term – and he is counting the days to getting back on the training pitches at Euxton.
“The injury’s coming along nicely at the moment,” the 25-year-old revealed.
“I came off the crutches last week, and it’s just a case of getting that walking motion back first of all, and then doing strength work in the range I can.
“At the moment, I’m ahead of where I should be, and the aim is to make the start of pre-season.
“I’ll be working hard over much of summer to make sure I’ll be there for that first day back with the boys.
“It’s the second year in a row I won’t get much of a summer, but I don’t mind as long as I get back playing all right.
“The injury came at the worst possible time for me and the team.
“I obviously wanted to get out there, we needed goals, and I felt like I could have provided that.
“On the plus side, it does give me that extra six weeks over summer to get right for next season, and I can’t wait to get going again.”