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A mountain to climb - but Wigan Athletic have been here before!

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

Paul Cook says Wigan Athletic are preparing for another assault on Everest ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup fourth-round visit of West Ham.

Latics shocked the football world five seasons ago when they went all the way to Wembley and beat Manchester City to become the newest name on the famous trophy.

If that triumph was unlikely, a repeat this season, with Latics now in the third tier, would be a genuine footballing miracle.

But Cook says there’s nothing wrong with dreamingof a repeat.

“Once you climb Everest, it’s always then something you can look back on and say: We’ve done it’,” the Latics boss acknowledged.

“And for us as a club, those memories will never go away.

“For the vast majority of Wigan Athletic supporters it will be their peak memory.

“Obviously our priority has always been the league, and we’re on course to achieve our objectives.

“But we’ve all been looking forward to this game since the Bournemouth result in the last round.

“It’s a very attractive tie, it’ll be a really good football match to view, and a great one for the fans.

“I won’t be suggesting we will beat West Ham.

“But I certainly have great faith in my lads, and we have proved this season we can be a match for every team we’ve played.

“For West Ham to beat us, they’ll have to play well.”

It’s been a textbook first seven months in the job since Cook – who started his playing career with Latics over three decades ago – was lured back north from Portsmouth, with whom he won the League Two title last term.

But he is wary of patting himself – and his loyal coaching staff – on the back too early, with so much of the campaign still to he played.

“I always think, before you achieve any kind of success, it’s very foolish to talk about such stuff,” he countered.

“To date, this group is the best we’ve worked with – both in terms of ability and mental strength.

“We’re going along very well, but there’s such a long way to go.

“You can talk now about success – but come Saturday evening we might be out of the FA Cup, and come Tuesday night we might not be top of the league.

“Football can change that quickly. For us, it’s about focusing on the next challenge, and that’s West Ham.”

While not at the club for the 2013 win, Cook does have previous in the competition with Latics, having been part of Ray Mathias’ class of 1987 who went all the way to the quarter-finals before losing to Leeds.

“We knocked out the likes of Hull, Norwich,” reminisced Cook. “Great moments as a young lad. When you are a lower league club as such those big results in cups become celebrating factors.

“But certainly for us, going into the game, we don’t see it as a giantkilling act if we beat West Ham – and that’s not being disrespectful.

“If West Ham brought a full-strength team, it would be a very much a big shock.

“But with the teams that some clubs are playing now because of the Premier League and the situation there...they are not play first teams all the time.

“The giantkillings are not as much now...possibly still shocks...but not as they were all those years ago.”