EMMERSON Boyce admits he cannot wait for the new season to begin – to banish the frustrations of last term.
The 30-year-old was increasingly an onlooker in the second half of last season as new signing Gary Caldwell was paired with Titus Bramble at the heart of the defence.
Boyce’s eight Premier League appearances in 2010 all came in the absence of Mario Melchiot at right-back – a position he’s more than familiar with having played there for all of his clubs.
Melchiot, of course, has moved on to pastures new this summer, meaning a vacancy in that position and no replacement having yet been signed.
There could also be possibilities at centre-back following the sale of Bramble and Caldwell’s summer surgery that could sideline him until October.
Whichever way Roberto Martinez plays it, Boyce just want to be in the starting XI.
“Half of last season was a bit frustrating for me, but you put your trust in the manager that he does the best for the team,” Boyce told the Evening Post.
”Everybody wants to play and, whether I’m playing right-back, centre-back or left-back, I’ll always give 100 per cent for the team and hopefully be good enough to make the line-up.
”The new season’s coming and we want to be ready so we’re all working hard and, with a few faces still to come in, the squad continues to get stronger and stronger.”
After starting last week’s opening pre-season friendly at Oldham at right-back – and with the captain’s armband – Boyce played in the centre of the defence against NK Rudar in Austria on Monday night.
And the Aylesbury-born player, who signed a new three-year deal last summer, admits he is picking up some extremely positive vibes since the players returned from summer.
“Trips like this are great for team bonding,” he added.
“The lads are all getting along really well and we want to keep putting the hard work into practice.
”We’d been to Sweden before we came here, as well as doing plenty of work back in Wigan, so the sharpness and match-fitness is getting better all the time.”
Although Latics were 4-1 victors over Rudar in their latest outing, however, Boyce still feels there is plenty of room for improvement.
”We were disappointed with the goal we conceded, but you can take that in pre-season, learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen when the league kicks-off.
”We kept the ball well and it was a good fitness exercise for us and managed to get four good goals as well.”
Wigan boss Martinez, meanwhile, believes the week in Austria will prove the perfect complement to the Swedish trip earlier this month.
“We did a little bit of altitude work in Sweden, to get the bodies right to work,” he said.
“Here in Austria, the focus is more on tactics and things like that.
“It has been a complicated summer because of the World Cup, and every single player who was over there has a personal programme to work from.
“Coming to Austria is about make sure the group becomes tighter.”