Graham Barrow wants Ryan Colclough to be the X Factor in Wigan’s Athletic’s survival bid.
Colclough has gone from forgotten man to central figure in the space of a fortnight, with a couple of sparkling cameos off the bench giving real hope for optimism.
Having been sent out on loan by Gary Caldwell to League One outfit MK Dons at the start of the season, Colclough was recalled by Warren Joyce over Christmas before being left on the sidelines.
With Omar Bogle joining Will Grigg on the sidelines – and almost certainly out for the rest of the campaign – Colclough is standing by to make his first Latics start since Easter Monday 2016 when Latics travel to Ipswich tonight.
And interim boss Barrow is backing him to rise to the occasion, and give Latics a much-needed shot in the arm.
“We’ve had players such as Charles N’Zogbia and Callum McManaman here before,” acknowledged Barrow.
“And Ryan’s definitely got that ability as well.
“He’s earned the right to be on the pitch, he’s a lot more settled now, and we’ve got to use that.”
Colclough took over from Bogle at the halfway mark at Newcastle on Saturday, and gave the long-time league leaders plenty to think about as they held on for a nervy 2-1 win.
“If I’m being really critical, there were a couple of players who disappointed me,” admitted Barrow.
“I’m really encouraging the players to get their shackles off, and I think one or two of them are still carrying the burden of the situation.
“There’s no use in that, because we need to fire on all cylinders.
“In the two games we’ve had recently, there’s been a couple of players – not the same ones – who have let us down in not being brave enough.
“We’ll be talking about that before the game – we’ve got to be brave and not worry about anything.”
A long trip down to Suffolk for a midweek fixture is not exactly what the doctor ordered at this stage of a long and arduous campaign.
But Barrow actually thinks it could act as a catalyst for his struggling side.
“I think it helps in this situation, because we do need that togetherness,” he insisted.
“I’ll probably ask the players to have a chat while we’re down there, without the staff, to get some things out in the open.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot of time to ourselves, and it’s important we make the most of that. The players will have no complaints whatsoever.
“We travelled down on Monday morning, the lads in the fitness department have arranged for us to train at Cambridge, and we’ve been able to make full use of the hotel facilities.
“We still believe–- but the players just need a little confidence booster.
“And a result at Ipswich would really give them that.
“We’ve worked ever so hard over the past two games for no reward, and you need a reward somewhere along the line. Hopefully that comes on Tuesday night.
“Ipswich have had a bit of a mixed bag in terms of changing systems, and we’ve had to prepare for that.
“I won’t give the line-up away until just before the game, because I thought that worked quite well focused ahead of Newcastle.
“We have to get out there and play the kind of football we have been playing of late.
“If we can do that, we’ll do all right.”