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EFL: Second debuts and strikers sign - pre-season heats up

18 July 2016

Nick Powell was back in action at Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium over the weekend as pre-season continued for EFL clubs up and down the country.

The 22-year-old re-joined the Latics last week, signing on a three-year deal from Manchester United, and played against his former club on Saturday in a game that Gary Caldwell’s side lost 2-0.

It was one of two friendlies that Wigan staged over the weekend, as they also faced Liverpool on Sunday and again fell to a 2-0 defeat.

But Caldwell was pleased with the hard work his team displayed and praised the quality of their opponents.

“I think over the course of the weekend we have learned what it takes to be a top player and a top team,” Caldwell explained to

“I thought our players acquitted themselves very well in both games and in terms of endeavour, work rate and desire I can’t ask for any more.”

Another player back in action for one of his former clubs was Glenn Murray, and he enjoyed a goalscoring return in a Brighton & Hove Albion shirt by finding the net at Crawley Town.

Murray, who played for the Seagulls between 2008 and 2011, is back on the East Sussex coast after joining on a loan deal from Bournemouth, and he was thrilled to score on his second debut for the club in a match Chris Hughton’s men won 4-0.

Newcastle United also won comfortably in their latest pre-season outing, beating Irish outfit Bohemian 6-0, and new recruit Matt Ritchie scored the goal of the game after only 15 minutes of his Magpies debut.

"It was a good test and I thoroughly enjoyed it," the summer signing from Bournemouth told

Read more: Newcastle United - Matt finish just the start

Ritchie was one of six different goalscorers for Rafa Benitez’s side and fellow new signing Dwight Gayle also got his name on the scoresheet, as well as Aleksandar Mitrovic, Florian Thauvin, Rolando Aarons and Georginio Wijnaldum.

The Magpies will face Burton Albion in the Sky Bet Championship this coming season and the Brewers’ pre-season continued on Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 victory over Stoke City.

Read more: #FixtureReleaseDay – EFL 2016/17 fixtures announced

And it was new signing Chris O’Grady who stood out as he bagged a brace less than 24 hours after joining the club on a season-long loan from Brighton.

INTERVIEW: Chris O'Grady hoping experience will be key for #BAFC in @SkyBetChamp.


— Burton Albion FC (@burtonalbionfc) July 18, 2016
Newport County also added a striker to their squad over the weekend, with the addition of experienced front man Jon Parkin.

The 34-year-old former Preston North End and Hull City man left Forest Green last week and was delighted to sign for Warren Feeney’s Exiles, completing his return to the EFL.

After joining, he told the club’s official website: “Returning [to the EFL] was a big bonus for me because I wanted at least another season at this level to challenge myself and hopefully I can score plenty of goals for the team.”

Staying on the subject of striker recruitment, in Sky Bet League One, Southend United completed the signing of Simon Cox over the weekend and Bradford City brought in Huddersfield’s Jordy Hiwula on loan.

Happy with the signing of @SCoxy31Real Blues fans? ⚽️🔵

— Southend United (@SUFCRootsHall) July 16, 2016
Cox has moved to Roots Hall after leaving Reading, while Hiwula will stay at Valley Parade for the season, where he will play in front of at least 17,000 season ticket holders, after the Bantams revealed their latest impressive figures.

Wow, we've passed 17000 season tickets! Whatever the final figure is, it's been a huge effort & success. Thank you for your support! #bcafc

— Bradford City AFC (@officialbantams) July 17, 2016

And last, but not least, spare a thought for Stevenage front man Matt Godden, who took a boot to the face during a friendly against Watford…

📸 Ouch.

New @StevenageFC signing Matt Godden in the thick of things during pre-season.

— EFL (@EFL) July 15, 2016

EFL Season 2016/17 kicks off on Friday 5th August with Fulham versus Newcastle being shown live on Sky Sports (7.45pm).

That is one of three live games to be played out in front of the cameras on what promises to be a thrilling opening weekend.

TV Games: Click here to see the TV selections that have been announced to date

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