Nick Powell’s influence off the field is as his important as his exploits on it as he continues to underpin Wigan Athletic’s promotion push.
That’s the verdict of Latics boss Paul Cook, whose decision to draft Powell back into the starting XI for the first time in four games was vindicated by the opening goal in the 2-0 victory over Fleetwood that opened up a four-point gap at the top of League One.
“Nick’s not just a tremendous player, he’s also a very good lad,” Cook recognised.
“Sometimes you’ve got to get to know the lad as well before you can get the best out of him on the field.
“Nick cares a lot about the game, and he’s very popular among his team-mates.
“We just want to see Nick out there on the field, because he is such a talent in our team.”
Powell also managed to keep his calm during a 90 minutes that threatened to get out of hand, showing a growing maturity to his game that Cook says is hugely encouraging.
“Sometimes games do get like that, and you have to keep your focus on the game,” the Latics boss acknowledged.
“Teams will try a lot of different things to win the game, but you have to try and keep 11 men on the pitch.
“That’s not me singling out Fleetwood, or trying to discredit them.
“But the most important thing for us is that when we lose, it’s because we’ve not been good enough, and we shake hands and move on.”
There’s no rest for Latics, who welcome AFC Fylde to the DW Stadium on Tuesday night, looking to secure an FA Cup third-round trip to Premier League Bournemouth in the New Year.
“It’s back to Fylde now, and they’re that perennial thing at the moment...they just won’t go away!” Cook smiled.
“We know they’ll give us a difficult game, because these games have a habit to being tough to put to bed.
“The likelihood is we will make changes, but it won’t be mass changes.
“We can assure our supporters, we want to go through to the next round.
“It won’t be a case of the Checkatrade Trophy...but we will be selecting a very strong side.”