Wigan Athletic need to ‘put things right’ - Garner

Joe Garner
Joe Garner

The wonderful reception Joe Garner received on his return to Preston with Wigan Athletic earlier this month would have brought a tear to many a glass eye.

Recognition for his memorable three-year stint at Deepdale which brought him 57 goals in 151 appearances, including a number of personal awards and promotion to the Championship.

It may not have been such a nice reception had Preston not been coasting at the time of Garner’s arrival off the bench, 2-0 up, against 10 men, and dominating in every area.

Despite a lively cameo from the 30-year-old striker, North End added another two goals to make it a real derby drubbing.

Which means Garner – and the rest of the Latics squad – is positively champing at the bit to make things right when the Championship resumes from another international break this weekend against West Brom.

“It obviously wasn’t the way I wanted to go back to Preston, where I spent so many good times,” he told the Wigan Post.

“But we’ve got a massive game coming up against West Brom and we’ll be looking forward to putting things right.

“We’ve spent the fortnight working on things we can do better, and hopefully we’ll be able to put that into operation at the weekend.”

Latics could scarcely have picked tougher opponents against whom to get back on the horse, with the Baggies recovering from a patchy start to rise to the heart of the promotion race.

“West Brom have got a great squad and you’d expect to be up there come the end of the season,” Garner acknowledged.

“It’s always good to test yourself against the best teams and the best players, and at home we fancy ourselves to compete with anyone.

“We’ll go into the game full of confidence and hoping to pick up all three points.

“We’re only a couple of points off the play-offs, which at this stage of the season represents a good start.

“If you’d told us we’d be in this position after 12 games we’d have been more than happy with that.

“Three points against West Brom will allow us to build on that and keep in the hunt for that top six.”

Latics suffered a major blow last week with Will Grigg picking up a hamstring injury on international duty with Northern Ireland, which could sideline him for some time.

But as one door closes, another one opens – and it could be an opportunity for Garner to establish himself in the starting XI having played catch-up fitness-wise since his summer signing from Ipswich.

“Obviously it’s always nice to be out there in the team,” he added.

“I feel I’m getting stronger each week I’ve been here with the work I’ve been doing.

“I’d been out for seven or eight months before I arrived which wasn’t ideal.

“I had a shoulder operation over the summer which held me back a bit.

“But I’m desperate to get out there and show everyone what I can do, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to do that.”