Wigan Athletic drew 2-2 at home to Burnley, in their final warm-up game, ahead of their season opener against Cardiff at the DW Stadium on August 3rd.
Burnley raced into an early 0-2 lead with goals from Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil, before Anthony Pilkington volleyed home for Latics just before half-time. Release the kids. They were outstanding. Joe Gelhardt netted his first-ever Wigan goal, to grab a second draw against Premier League opposition this pre-season.
Let’s have a look at which youngsters impressed yesterday…
The youngsters are not here to make the numbers up
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Leo Da Silva Lopes yesterday in that first half, I thought he was superb, especially up against a super young talent in McNeil. He was playing for his place out there and certainly done himself no harm. Confident on the ball, strong in the tackle and all-round gave as good of a performance as you can expect against Premier League opposition.
However, the ultimate plaudits must go to the trio of Jenson Weir, Gelhardt and Callum Lang. Endeavour, fight and so much quality. Yes, it’s a friendly, let’s not forget Burnley qualified for Europe the season before last and were pretty much at full-strength yesterday.
Let’s start with Weir, he plays way beyond his years. Sits in midfield, keeps the game ticking, great passing range and not afraid to get stuck in, either. Already an England youth international, I can see why, an intelligent footballer that has a big future ahead of him.
Secondly, Lang. The young striker worked extremely hard, won his fair share of battles against James Tarkowski and was a constant nuisance. It’s evident from his loan spells that this lad can finish. He didn’t get any clear-cut scoring chances, however, if he’s got that goalscoring ability to couple with his endeavour, maybe we won’t need a new striker after all?
He had the crowd off their seat, just with his pressing and work-rate, that’s all we ask for in the stands, 110% effort, oh and 15 goals.
Lastly but by no means least, the hero of the day, Gelhardt. This kid could be something really special. Similarly to Weir, already an England youth international, an exciting player that just wants to play football and destroy defences. I was pleasantly surprised by his willingness for the ball, confidence to beat players and his composure in front of goal. It was a great finish for his first-ever Latics goal. Touch and bang. Into the bottom corner, Jermain Defoe-esque.
It’s a proud moment for the whole club to see academy lads playing like this. The hard work and trust are paying off. We have a number of outstanding talents, who with the right coaching and nurturing, will have great careers in the game. As fans, it’s like a proud dad moment, seeing young local lads doing the business for Latics. We’re all behind them and can’t wait to see what’s next. Over to you Cook, if they’re good enough, they’re old enough.