Wigan Athletic Under-18s boss Will Ryder has issued a challenge to his players to continue their unbeaten run of form with another good result against Preston this Saturday.
The Latics are unbeaten in all competitions since the end of September, including their last five league games to rise to 3rd in the North West Youth Alliance.
“The lads have found their feet now,” Ryder told LFE. “The squad, first years and second years, have integrated. We’ve got a really good group of players.
“That’s us 10 unbeaten now including league and cup games, so we are on a bit of a run. I’ve set the lads a bit of a challenge before Christmas and, at the minute, things are going okay results-wise.”
Wigan have been impressive at the back this season, boasting the best defensive record in the league having secured clean sheets in all seven of their league wins so far.
“Our lads are very resilient. They put their bodies in the way, as well as being really good footballers,” Ryder said.
“We work with them technically, we work with them tactically, but more than anything they are winners and they’re very competitive and another clean sheet is very pleasing. That’s something that the lads have set themselves as a little target.
“Earlier in the season, we conceded some sloppy goals from open play, conceded a few from set pieces and they’ve sat down as a group and have highlighted that that’s something we wanted to improve and we’ve definitely done that. We look solid.”
North End had won four successive league games before suffering two defeats in their last two fixtures having shipped eight goals and Ryder still expects a tough encounter.
“We’ve played Preston once this year in the Lancashire Cup. That was a really tough game. It’s a competitive league with the number of teams in and around this region,” he continued.
“They’d gone on a little run of winning quite a few games on the bounce so we know what we’re going to get with Preston. It’s going to be a tough fixture for us.
“We’ve got Preston, Walsall and the Youth Cup so it’s going to be a hard run but then they get a deserved break and we’ve got to go again, but really before they can even start thinking about Christmas, we’ve got three tough fixtures and Preston will be a hard game this Saturday.”