Byrne returns for Wigan Athletic!

Nathan Byrne in pre-season training
Nathan Byrne in pre-season training

Nathan Byrne is fighting fit and ready to make his Wigan Athletic return this weekend against Nottingham Forest.

The right-back, Wigan’s player of the year in the League One title success, has yet to kick a ball this term, having picked up a groin problem on the pre-season trip to Spain.

But after a period of rest and recuperation, he’s back in contention for a return to the starting XI.

“Nathan trained fully with the rest of the first-team squad on Tuesday, he was off with the others on Wednesday, and he’ll be involved with the squad for Saturday,” boss Paul Cook told the Wigan Post.

“That’s great news for everyone, because he was one of our big players last season as everyone knows.

“Maybe he’s not had that competition in his position that we would have liked...it was the same 12/13 players who played most of the games last year.

“This time it’s a little bit different, we’ve got great depth in the squad, and there’s a real fight to be in the team.

“Hopefully Dan Burn will be back in the fold after the first international break, and we’ll hopefully be in a position to pick up the results we’re looking for.”

Latics are hoping to get back to winning ways after last weekend’s defeat at Aston Villa in the Championship was followed up with a Carabao Cup loss in midweek at Rotherham.

And Cook admits they could scarcely have picked more difficult opposition against whom to get back on the horse.

“Forest will pose an absolutely massive threat on Saturday,” he acknowledged.

“They’re full of outstanding players, they’ve got an outstanding manager, and it’ll be another bumper crowd in the stadium. But it’s all part of the process involved with moving up a division.

“It’s very tough, very demanding, to remain self-confident when you’re moving up a level and results are going against you, and goals are going against you.

“Confidence is key in football, we’re trying to build a club based on confidence and bravery, and when it goes wrong having the belief to go out there and work even harder to get it right.”

Cook, meanwhile, remains at ease with his decision to make eight changes at Rotherham in midweek, despite seeing Latics crash out of the competition.

“The Carabao Cup was always third in our list of priorities, we’re now out, and we can get some rest in midweek when some other teams are playing,” he added.

“We enjoyed the FA Cup run last year, and that’s the challenge this year – can we have another run in that competition?

“Everyone knows that’s a cup competition that’s very much in our minds.”