OWEN Coyle admits Wigan Athletic will have to beware Paul Ince’s presence at Blackpool tomorrow – both on and off the pitch.
The Seasiders boss will be absent from the technical area, as a result of the five-match ban he picked up last week.
Ince is unable even to enter a stadium where Blackpool are playing on matchdays until November 30, such was the seriousness of the charge against him.
But he will be there in spirit, thanks to the 10,000 masks bearing his face that have been distributed in Blackpool this week.
And Coyle is refusing to buy into the notion that Blackpool will be a rudderless ship without their leader.
“I know Paul and his assistant, Alex Rae, really well, and I’ve got a lot of time for both of them,” Coyle said.
“When you hear Paul has picked up a five-game ban – not just from the touchline but from the stadium – it is a little bit unusual.
“I don’t know what he’s said to cause such a severe ban, but it was obviously something serious enough.
“Look, Paul’s a very passionate guy, he loves his football and he loves his job.
“It’ll be strange not to see him out there, but he’ll have prepared his side for the past fortnight and they’ll be ready.
“I’ve been in positions before where managers have had touchline bans, albeit not being banned from the actual stadium.
“But I’m not sure how much that is going to affect them, because he’ll have prepared the side along with Alex as usual.
“The biggest thing I can see that he’ll not be able to affect is the substitutions - and as we know sometimes that can be crucial.”
Latics could be boosted by the return of Marc-Antoine Fortune after hgamstring trouble.
The big striker aggravated an existing problem during the defeat at Watford last month, but is champing at the bit for a recall.
“If there is no reaction in training, Marco will be in contention to play,” added Coyle.
Grant Holt could make his first start since the end of August after his goalscoring return from a knee injury in Wigan’s last outing – the 2-1 win over Blackburn before the international break.