‘Can we play City with 14 men?’ - Wigan Athletic boss

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook joked the club will ask the FA if they can field 14 players against Manchester City in next Monday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie.

City have already been described as one of the Premier League era’s greatest sides and Cook has no doubts about the quality of Pep Guardiola’s men, saying they are “possibly the best team in the world”.

“We’re asking the FA for special dispensation to play 14 players,” Cook said.

“You have to be careful with what you say sometimes because all we can do is sit here and offer superlatives about what Man City are doing and how good they are.

“The reality for us is we’ve got to try and beat them. With the best will in the world, everything they do, every side that comes before them, they put away quite comfortably.”

Latics, who famously lifted their only major trophy by upsetting City at Wembley in the 2013 FA Cup final, are on course to bounce back to the Championship after last season’s relegation.

But he is under no illusions as to the size of the task his players will face on Monday.

“It’s hard, isn’t it?” he said. “How can you say it’s just a normal game when you’re going to play possibly the best team in the world at the minute?

“It’s going to be such a challenge for us all, for everybody connected with the club, because if you can’t believe when you go into a tie that you can win it, then there’s no point.”

Wigan’s preparations for their fifth-round encounter at the DW Stadium have not been ideal following back-to-back defeats, which have seen them knocked off top spot in League One.

“If you’d seen us play in both games, it was nothing to do with Man City,” added Cook.

“Every good run comes to an end, no matter who you are. Unfortunately for us it’s come in the week leading up to Man City, so people will say that.”