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Kelly: “I Want Us To Hit The Ground Running.”

6 August 2015

Manager Darren Kelly wants his side to hit the ground running as they travel to the Banks’s Stadium to face Walsall in the season opener on Saturday.

The gaffer, who officially took charge of Latics on June 1, has enjoyed his first pre-season as a professional football manager and believes his side are well prepared ahead of this weekend.

He said: "I want us to hit the ground running from day one. The main focus is Walsall on Saturday but confidence breeds confidence and we want to get off to a nice win in the first game.

"The team are ready. They are giving me food for thought. They are working extra hard and doing extra pieces and as it stands I have a fully fit team to pick from which is fantastic. 

"I don’t think there are many teams that can say that. Preparations have been good and it’s been hard so it’s going to be a headache to pick the first 11 but it’s exciting.

"All over the pitch there is opportunity. It is going to be difficult and that’s what I wanted. The players have worked extremely hard this week but there are people fighting for places all over the pitch and that’s what we want. 

“It’s going to be great to pick the first 11 but we will sit down as staff, identify Walsall’s threats and pick the best side to win the game on Saturday.”

The Saddlers have strengthened their squad over the summer with the signings of Milan Lalkovic and former Latics goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

“They are a good side,” Kelly admitted. “They are well organised and they have some very good players. 

"On Saturday, we will have addressed and taken care of the issues of concern but it’s about us and how we do our jobs. If we are on key and on song, I have no doubt we will get the three points.”

Although the manager is prepared for the start of the campaign, he has identified an area where he is expecting more from his players.

"We have to be more clinical in front of goal and we have identified that. We have scored goals but not enough. We are just putting the little pieces of the puzzle together and I hope it comes off on the day. 

"If you look at pre-season, the aim was to get the players fit mentally and physically, and to get the players prepared. This is where it all counts. This is where points and performances matter and I have no doubt that with the team we have we can do well,” said the 36-year-old.

With over 1,000 supporters expected at the Banks’s Stadium on Saturday, the manager is calling on the fans to make as much noise and become the 12th man.

"I have been hearing so much about the away supporters and I witnessed it at Stirling. It has been absolutely amazing and I hope we can go out on Saturday and put a performance on. 

"I want the supporters to know that we appreciate their support. We talk about it and hopefully going into the Walsall game they can be our 12th man.”

Watch the full interview on Latics PlayerHD.

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