Talking Football: Latics must ward off vultures!
The transfer window's only been open for a matter of days, but Wigan Athletic fans will already be counting down the hours until January 31.
Paul Cook is already on the hunt for the odd reinforcement to help get his league One leaders over the line at the end of the season.
But the Latics will be well aware his No.1 priority this month will be holding on to what he already has.
It’s no exaggeration to suggest this could be the most important transfer window in the club’s history.
What happens over the next four weeks or so will have a huge bearing on the very future of the football club.
With no parachute payments to call upon, the financial landscape at the DW Stadium has changed forever.
The announcement of the accounts this week confirmed Latics are having to rely on being self-sufficient, at least until new investment arrives.
The net profit of £4.3million must be taken with a huge asterix, given the £7million sale of Yanic Wildschut 12 months ago.
While no-one in their right mind would have turned down that amount, the sale effectively consigned Latics to the dreaded drop.
A year later, it’s imperative Latics do not even think about cashing in if – and when – unwanted interest arrives.
Skipper Sam Morsy, club captain Dan Burn and playmaker Nick Powell would appear to be the three most likely to generate interest.
With a World Cup to look forward to next summer, Morsy will surely not want to risk upsetting the apple-cart even if the opportunity arose.
But with so much money at stake in the Championship, it’s hard to imagine clubs not casting admiring glances in the way of Burn and Powell.
While they would generate significant funding, the loss of either would be catastrophic at both ends of the field.
Getting back into the second tier soon is a must for Latics if they are to remain any kind of future ambition – so if the DW phone rings this month...don’t answer it!
The clean sheet at Northampton on New Year’s Day made it six in a row for Latics – two short of a club record.
And while the run has coincided with the return of Christian Walton from three months out injured, the big goalkeeper will be the first to admit it’s been more down those in front of him.
Dan Burn and Chey Dunkley have rightly received plaudits all year, but how about the contribution of the two blokes playing outside them?
Nathan Byrne looked to have played his last game for Latics when he was loaned out last season to Charlton.
Reece James was in even gloomier spirits, in the middle of a 20-month spell out through injury.
But both have been pivotal to the way Paul Cook has Latics playing, defending first but making themselves extra wingers at every opportunity – and both should be there or thereabouts when the individual awards are dished out in May.
The sight of Wolves sweeping all before them on their seemingly unstoppable march towards the Premier League may not raise too much obvious interest in Wigan.
But it perhaps should.
Because if the Molineux outfit are successful in their quest for the top flight, their shopping list is rumoured to be less about avoiding relegation and more about establishing themselves among the elite.
It’s hard to see where Lee Evans fit in to this future picture, having been allowed to join Latics on a season-long loan.
But anyone who’s seen Latics this term will know exactly how vital a cog he’s been in our own promotion push.
And why nailing him to a permanent deeal will surely already be in Paul Cook’s thinking.