Five things we learned from Shrewsbury (a)

Will Keane heads home the opening goal at ShrewsburyWill Keane heads home the opening goal at Shrewsbury
Will Keane heads home the opening goal at Shrewsbury
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic’s massive 2-1 victory at Shrewsbury on Tuesday night...

1 Awesome four-some! Latics picked up their fourth win in a row at Shrewsbury to maintain their momentum heading towards the League One finishing line. The last time the side picked up a quartet of victories on the spin was in January/February 2018, on the way to the League One title under Paul Cook. There will be no silverware at the end of this season but, make no mistake, the achievement of staying up this year would far outweigh that title. Pretty much everyone expected Latics to win the league that year. No-one outside the borough gave them a chance of staying up this time round.

2 What’s going on? Under normal circumstances, four wins in a row at this stage of the campaign – and 47 points on the board, with three matches remaining – would mean the job of securing safety was already done. Sadly no-one sent the memo to Wimbledon and Rochdale, who have embarked on similar runs to keep things going right to the death! Joey Barton’s rock-bottom Bristol Rovers are all-but gone, while Swindon – post-John Sheridan – require a minor miracle. But fourth-bottom Northampton are also still fighting, and Latics need to keep going until it’s mathematically done and dusted.

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3 Going for a Burton? When Latics won 4-3 at Burton at the end of December, it looked like the Brewers’ hopes of staying in League One were drooping to say the least. But a quite remarkable turnaround since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink replaced ex-Latics man Jake Buxton means they’ll rock up to the DW Stadium with little to play for, which will hopefully play in Wigan’s hands...with Kyle Joseph – hat-trick hero from the last meeting – now back in the fold after injury...

4 Hull of an incentive! League One leaders Hull can secure promotion this weekend with a point against Lincoln. That could in turn have a knock-on effort for Latics, who visit the Tigers the following weekend. Given previous evidence, the Latics players have tended to ‘enjoy’ securing promotion even with games still to be played, so let’s hope Hull do likewise. In addition, Swindon could be relegated this weekend – which would render their final-day trip to the DW meaningless. All this is hypothetical, of course, and there are no guarantees in this game.

But any kind of edge in Latics’ favour will be gratefully received at this stage of the campaign...

5 Next season starts asap! Latics have added incentive to secure their safety in League One – so they can begin concrete planning for next season. The only players under contract for next term are Adam Long, Luke Robinson, Thelo Aasgaard and Callum Lang, and the new owners will be desperate to get cracking on tying down as many players as possible. That would include the likes of Tendayi Darikwa, George Johnston, Funso Ojo, Viv Solomon-Otabor, Dan Gardner and Joe Dodoo, who have impressed on short-term deals – and will surely be attracting interest from elsewhere in the meantime. Hopefully all – and maybe even Rotherham loanee Curtis Tilt – will be keen to stay out and extend their tenure here. That kind of continuity will be crucial to the new era under Phoenix 2021 Limited.

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