Paul Cook admits the real benefits from Friday night’s draw with Premier League giants Liverpool could be felt years down the line for Wigan Athletic.
Alex Gilbey’s first-half goal was enough to give Latics a share of the spoils against Jurgen Klopp’s big-spending outfit at the DW Stadium.
The home side held on for a draw despite making 11 changes in the second period, with a total of SEVEN graduates rom the club’s academy – Jordan Flores, Owen Evans, Luke Burke, Sam Stubbs, Luke Burgess, Chris Merrie and Callum Lang – getting on to the field to mix it with the Reds.
“Games like that are not about the result,” acknowledged Cook.
“It’s about getting as many of the younger lads as possible out on the pitch against top-quality international players.
“We’re delighted with the way the night went on.
“You never like getting beat, and it was nice to come away unbeaten. Scoring goals – especially against a side like Liverpool – breeds positivity within the team.
“And the lads were very good value for the result they came away with.
“It’s only pre-season, we’re not stupid people, but it was a positive night and we’ll be ready to go again on Tuesday at Southport.”
Indeed another two locally-produced youngsters – James Barrigan and Josh Gregory – were unused substitutes, reflecting the great work being done behind the scenes by Gregor Rioch and his staff.
Cook, meanwhile, was presented to the Latics fans before the game, and he appreciated the welcome afforded him from the stands.
“The Wigan people are always very good and I appreciated that before the game,” he added.
“I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter whether you get 2,000 or 50,000 supporters, it’s all about the passion.
“And the Wigan fans are every bit as passionate as everyone else.”