James: We’re still gelling

Reece James in action at Southend
Reece James in action at Southend

REECE James believes Wigan Athletic remain on track to achieve their seasonal objectives after an up-and-down week ended with honours even.

Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Southend completed a full set of results against a trio of promoted clubs, after the midweek defeat to Burton and last weekend’s win over Shrewsbury.

Latics remain in fifth place in League One, five points behind leaders Coventry after 20 matches played.

And James reckons that has to go down as a decent return given the major upheaval over the summer.

“Considering how many new players we have in the squad, I think it’s going well,” the ex-Manchester United man said.

“We’re still gelling, but at times we are starting to show what we’re capable of.

“I think we can do a lot better as well, and the Christmas period will be very telling as always.

“As you get into January some teams start to peel away, and hopefully we can be one of those teams and go on a good run.”

Latics had chances to pick up all three points at Roots Hall, with the recalled Leon Barnett seeing an effort in either half cleared off the line before hitting the bar in stoppage-time. Southend’s biggest chance came only six minutes in, when Ryan Leonard saw a fine shot from distance come back off Jussi Jaaskelainen’s bar.

“I thought we looked very solid, they didn’t cause us too many problems,” assessed James.

“It was a difficult game to play in, because conditions weren’t great.

“We ended up getting through that and created enough chances to win the game.

“We had a few penalty shouts in that second half that I thought should have been given. Unfortunately for us we didn’t get them.”

With midfielder David Perkins having dropped to the bench, James boasts the only 100 per cent appearance record in league combat.

“It’s good to have played every game,” recognised the 22-year-old.

“I need to keep going, and I certainly feel there’s a lot more to come from me.

“I want to keep working hard, keep improving and hope the manager keeps picking me.

“There’s a lot of good players in this squad, and it keeps you on your toes because you never know when someone else could be taking your place.”

James is still searching for his first goal in a Latics shirt, which almost came in the second period when he saw a right-foot shot well saved by the Southend goalkeeper.

“I came close to scoring against Burton in midweek, I felt I should have scored when I hit the post,” he added.

“This would have been a nice one, especially with my right foot, but it wasn’t to be.”