KEITH Curle is confident that Hallam Hope is the kind of predator that can keep Latics among the goals this season.

Although Oldham had by far the leakiest defence last term, they were among League Two's leading scorers with 72 - second behind promoted Cambridge United, who ended the campaign with 73 overall.

The departure of 21-goal top scorer Conor McAleny to Salford City left a void.

But while Curle has concentrated on building a stronger defensive framework with his summer recruits, he feels Hope can help maintain Latics' firepower.

"Hallam will score goals," said Latics' head coach.

"He has a great work ethic, good player, getting confident, put balls in the box he will score, and he will score a range of goals.

"Balls in behind, balls on the edge of the box, balls at the near post, headers like (Saturday)."

Having been away with Barbados on international duty, Hope was a late starter to the pre-season programme, but made up for lost time with a goal in his first game.

The 27-year-old had been short of service in the opening half-hour of Saturday's friendly with Wigan Athletic, but scored with his first change - a thumping header from Nicky Adams' cross.

He was then unlucky not to add a second moments later, as goalkeeper Ben Amos denied Hope's drive from distance with a good save.

"He has got the ability to score a variety of goals," said Curle, who successfully pursued former Everton trainee Hope from Bury while he was manager of Carlisle United.

"I've worked with Hallam before and I was just starting to see the rewards of the work that we were doing with him coming to fruition.

"And then I left and then Hallam left and went down to Swindon and stepped the level up.

"I still think he's got a point to prove and I like that hunger and that desire about him."

Hope scored 36 goals in 148 appearances across two spells with Carlisle - the first on loan from Gigg Lane. And Curle feels the forward has improved since the pair last worked together.

"Definitely, not only physically but mentally now he's in a good place," said the Latics chief. "His understanding of his role in the team and his understanding of his position within the team, within different formations is important."