Paul Cook believes he has already made one of his most important signings for next season by persuading Gary Roberts to commit to another 12 months with Wigan Athletic.
The much-travelled frontman, who turned 35 in March, followed Cook to Wigan from Portsmouth in the summer of 2017, having previously achieved success with him during their Chesterfield days.
After playing his part in last season’s League One title win, when he made 35 appearances, Roberts proved a dependable member of the squad in this season’s successful consolidation in the Championship.
And while admitting he probably won’t play as many as the 18 games he managed this term, Cook says his role next season should not be underestimated.
“The atmosphere in and around the dressing room, in and around the club...Gary is very much at the heart of that,” Cook told the Wigan Post.
“He’s been a great player, and we all know his days are probably going to get numbered quite soon.
“But he trains every day as if it’s his last, and he absolutely loves football.
“Apart from him being an Evertonian, there’s not a lot else wrong with the lad.
“Next year, in an ideal world, we perhaps won’t see so much of Gary.
“But the part he has to play at the club is still huge.
“We just haven’t had enough of that kind of character about this season.
“One of the setbacks we suffered this year was having lost Noel Hunt and David Perkins last summer.
“Two lads who didn’t have a lot of minutes on the pitch, but had such a huge effect on the club as a whole.
“And I don’t think some people fully appreciate the effects of players like that moving on.”