Warren Joyce admits Wigan Athletic are having to think outside the box as they try to overcome the dual loss of creative sparks Michael Jacobs and Yanic Wildschut.
Wigan’s attempts to cope without Wildschut – who was sold to Norwich on deadline day for £7million – have been hampered by the absence of Jacobs in recent weeks with a hamstring strain.
Latics have failed to muster a goal in open play since Jacobs bagged at Fulham on February 11 – three days before he was injurted at Wolves.
“We’ve got Jacobs, who’s one of the most creative players at the club, missing at the moment,” acknowledged Joyce.
“When I came to the football club we had him and Yanic on the flanks, and you’re without both of them now.
“We haven’t got anybody to replace them at the football club, and that is...not a problem, but you can’t replace that.
“You try to do something else, and we’ve played a different way, with two forwards.
“You can’t have it both ways. We’ve had flowing football, with flying wingers, balls in the box...and not scored.
“We’ve now got two up front, a bit more direct, working our socks off, pitch not as good, can’t play smooth football, not quite scoring either.
“We’ve got to find a way of making it happen. But that’s the hardest thing in football.”
The return of Alex Gilbey at the weekend after almost six months out with ankle ligament damage could well, with Joyce admitting the rare luxury of a full week on the training ground will help the ex-Colchester man and Gabriel Obertan, who is also short of full match sharpness.
“We’ve got a chance in the early part of the week to put some work into Gilbey and Obertan,” added Joyce.
“That brings them on as much as a game, because you can put things into their bodies that you can’t substitute.
“In a practice game they can always have a rest, but in training I can make it so they can’t rest, so their legs and hearts are burning, and it gets them to a sharper level of fitness.
“Obertan particularly hasn’t done much training, we’ve dragged him up and down the country to be sub.
“Gilbey’s had a more sustained period of raining, and played a couple of friendlies.
“You can’t expect them to be anywhere near their max at the moment, but I thought they both showed flashes.”
Meanwhile, Joyce has had to postpone two supporter-related events this week after undergoing a minor operation.
Joyce was due to appear on BBC Radio Manchester’s Football Hour on Monday night, before attending a fans forum at the DW Stadium on Wednesday night, alongside chairman David Sharpe and chief executive Jonathan Jackson.
However, following a routine medical examination on Monday morning, he has been advised to undergo surgery immediately.
Both events have been rescheduled for March 27 (BBC Radio Manchester) and March 29 (fans forum).
Tickets for the fans forum will all be valid for the new date, with refunds available for supporters not able to attend any longer.
“We are genuinely sorry for the inconvenience this will inevitably cause,” said chief executive Jackson.
“But naturally, medical issues have to take priority above all else.”