Cook to ring the changes for Pool trip

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

Paul Cook has pledged to once again ring the changes for Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy clash at Blackpool.

But the Wigan Athletic boss has promised every single one of the travelling fans making the trip to the Fylde coast that the team he sends out will be capable of doing a job and winning the game.

“I think it’s important when our supporters are spending money, as a manager you have to speak to them,” Cook told the Wigan Post.

“We will be making the changes, and the competition does allow us to do that.

“But it also allows us to put senior players in there who need a game.

“It will be a competitive game, an enjoyable game, against a Blackpool side who have started great.

“Blackpool gave us a very tough time in the League Cup – they were undeserved losers on the night.

“We know we’re in for a tough game, but one we’re very much looking forward to.”

As Cook admitted, the Seasiders were very unfortunate to lose a closely-fought League Cup tie by the odd goal in three earlier this month.

But that let-off will not make him tweak his plan of selecting horses for courses, as the club balances their league aspirations with cup combat.

“Every club has different policies and different agendas,” Cook recognised.

“For us, we’re very focused on the league campaign, we really are.

“But you look at some of the young lads, and they need to see where they want to be at.

“A well-balanced club flows, and our job is to make sure we’re giving all the lads opportunities to show what they can do.

“Look at Callum Lang for example – he was last seen scoring goals at Notts County and Grimsby in pre-season, and we haven’t really seen him since.

“That’s not great – for either me as a manager or our supporters.

“Hopefully we’ll get good support at Blackpool on the night and we’ll back our players to get the job done.”

Academy product Lang will play a key role in the game, in a side that will be bolstered by the presence of several established first-teamers such as Donervon Daniels, who is making his way back from long-term injury, and summer signing Terell Thomas.

“People who know the club can see what we’re trying to do,” assessed Cook.

“Although it’s a results-based business, certainly there will be no pressure on the lads who play at Blackpool.

“Having said that, we’ve got three games in this competition, and it would be nice to get out of the group.”

Cook is particularly keen not to dismiss a competition that has already given him a trip to Wembley during his short but sweet managerial career.

“Looking back to my time at Chesterfield, when we managed to get through to Wembley, we fielded our strongest team,” he added.

“With the potential for fixture pile-ups, that can create a problem and a great distraction.

“Going to Wembley’s one of the greatest days you can have in football, but you can play your strongest team and still get knocked out!

“If you could guarantee me we could get to Wembley, I’d love to go again!

“You don’t get any guarantees in football, though, and the risk of losing certain players has to be factored in.”

Max Power is a definite starter, although his future at the club remains in doubt ahead of Thursday night’s transfer deadline.

One man who definitely won’t be featuring is fellow midfielder Jack Byrne, with a move to Oldham believed to be close.

The Wigan Post understands a loan deal, possibly until January, is currently being discussed with John Sheridan’s men.