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Season preview: Wigan Athletic

Season preview: Wigan Athletic
© PA Photos
Sports Mole ponders what might happen to Wigan Athletic, who are back in the Championship with Owen Coyle for the 2013-14 season.

The Championship season gets underway this weekend and here Sports Mole assesses the chances of Wigan Athletic in 2013-14.

In:

Juan Carlos Garcia (From Olimpia Tegucigalpa, Free), Grant Holt (From Norwich, £2m), James Perch (From Newcastle United, £750,000), Scott Carson (From Bursaspor, £700,000), Stephen Crainey (From Blackpool, Free), Marc-Antoine Fortune (From West Bromwich Albion, Free), Chris McCann (From Burnley, Free), Thomas Rogne (From Celtic, Free)

Out:

Arouna Kone (To Everton, £6m), Mauro Boselli (To Leon, Undisclosed), Antolin Alcaraz (To Everton, Free), Maynor Figueroa (To Hull, Free), Peter Aylmer (Released), Albert Crusat (Released), Franco Di Santo (Released), David Jones (Released), Adrian Lopez (Released), Jonathan Lynch (Released), Callum Morris (Released), Filip Orsula (Released), Ronnie Stam (Released), Josh Sumner (Released), Ryan Watson (Released)

Last Season: 18th, Premier League

Manager: Owen Coyle

Three key players:


Wigan Athletic player James Perch on July 27, 2013© PA Photos
James Perch - A bid of £750,000 was enough to end Perch's time at the Pardew Project in Newcastle. Dropping down a division was perhaps not a necessary move for the 27-year-old, who often filled in admirably for the Magpies with their defensive injury crises. If he wanted more football, one of the promoted sides would have surely offered him that, but instead he chose to join the Latics. A versatile central footballer, who can play in either defence or midfield, Perch should thrive as a player in the Championship.


James McArthur© PA Photos
James McArthur - Having both James McArthur and James McCarthy in the centre of midfield is a commentator's nightmare and you might expect to see the latter's name here but, if speculation is to be believed, he may not still be a Wigan player come the end of August. McCarthy is perhaps Wigan's most valuable asset, alongside the nippy Callum McManaman, and if big bids come in, Wigan may sell. If 22-year-old McCarthy does depart, then more responsibility will fall on McArthur, 25. The Scottish international should be able to handle it and influence both ends of the field.


Wigan Athletic striker Grant Holt on July 27, 2013© PA Photos
Grant Holt - A hero at former club Norwich, Holt decided to take up the offer of joining Wigan as he knew that minutes at Carrow Road would be limited because of the summer signings of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper. He has still got a few years left in the tank at 32 and the Championship is where he made his name. When Norwich were promoted in 2010-11, he was nominated for the division's player of the year and memorably scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory over bitter rivals Ipswich Town. With Kone departing, Holt will be a starter under Coyle and his work rate and physical nature should lead to plenty of goals in the second tier.

First game: Barnsley (A), Complete fixture list

Sports Mole says: Wigan were relegated from the top flight in May after flirting with it so much in the past few years. Relegation was the cruellest of punishments after their stunning run in the FA Cup, where they shocked Manchester City in the final at Wembley. That means that they will contest the Community Shield against Manchester United on August 11 and also feature in the Europa League this campaign. Many would argue that such commitments will hamper their league form, especially with a new manager at the helm in Owen Coyle. Losing Roberto Martinez and a couple of players to Everton makes it feel like a new era for the Latics, but Coyle is adept at this level and his transfer business so far is perhaps the most astute in the Championship. Holt, especially, should thrive dropping down a division after impressing with Norwich in the Premier League and a playoff charge is what is expected this season.

Predicted finish: 4th

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