Dan Ward was pleased to get his first 45 minutes in a Latics shirt under his belt this weekend at a pre-season draw at Southport.
Manager David Unsworth signed Ward on a free from Gateshead in the summer window, following an impressive campaign in the 2022/23 season, scoring eight goals in 46 appearances, being the clubs second top scorer.
Ward’s start to life in a Latics shirt was delayed by a calf strain, but having worked closely with the support staff he was able to make his debut in the 1-1 draw at Haig Avenue.
He commented: “It was good to dust the cobwebs off, the lads at the back defended well, long throws and everything was coming straight into the box.
“It was a good platform to build on and to get my fitness back, frustrating obviously to pick up a niggle early doors of pre-season but it was good to get out there and catch up with the rest of the lads really.
“I appreciate the work from people behind the scenes to build my fitness up and getting up to speed with the rest of the lads because obviously they’ve had some really tough sessions which I've probably missed out on and joined in back end of this week.”
Following his injury, Ward has been reminiscing upon the weeks building up to the challenge at Southport last weekend.
Ward is pleased with how he has settled in at Boundary Park and believes a platform is in place for a successful campaign.
He added: “Everyone’s been spot on, it’s a great group in there and I think that’s really important, it's a great changing room.
“Every session’s been tough, it's not so much tapering off towards the game, it’s every day you’re giving 100% and emptying the tank. You might be a bit leggy in the first few games, but it's all geared towards the first game of the season.
“It's all fitness building towards the first game of the season.
“I’ve picked up that niggle early doors so I’ve had two days of training, I was trying to work and gain partnerships with the people around me, I thought there were some good signs and learning how the people play around me.”
Following his return to training last week, Ward feels as if the buzz around the team is a strong one with a real sense of integrity around the club which will be crucial in achieving the squad's goals for next season.
He continued: “Hoges (Liam Hogan) was really drilling into the lads we are trying to win every game we play and even in training every mini game, every possession (game), it's all focussed on winning and I think that’s very important.
“It’s a great changing room, all the lads have been really good, along with the people behind the scenes. It’s a really good club with good people which is half the battle especially when you’ve moved away and stuff like that, but it's been brilliant.”