Hat-trick boost for Latics chief

Michael Jacobs
Michael Jacobs

Paul Cook admits the return of three key Wigan Athletic first-teamers has given given a welcome headache ahead of this afternoon’s visit of Southend.

Latics go into the game looking for a seventh victory in eight matches which, if Shrewsbury fail to win at Plymouth, would see them take over top spot in League One.

And with Michael Jacobs and Reece James back from injury – and Sam Morsy returning from international duty – Cook has his work cut out selecting a first XI.

“Everyone’s fit and available, Michael will be back and Reece is also in contention,” reported the Latics boss.

“Sammy’s back from international duty, and it puts us in a good position to be able to cope with three tough games in seven days, with Gillingham to come next Tuesday.

“The whole squad will be utilised over the course of the week, and we’re ready for that.”

With Lee Evans suspended after his red card at Scunthorpe last weekend, Morsy will step back into the engine room with the captain’s armband.

And having helped Egypt reach the World Cup finals for the first time since Italia 90, Morsy will have an extra spring in his step.

“It’s a great achievement for Sammy and Egypt,” Cook recognised.

“It’s always great to see any player going away and representing their country, getting recognition on the biggest stage, we’re delighted for him.”

l There will be a one-minute’s applause before the game to celebrate the life of Ian McNeill, who guided Latics into the Football League side in 1978, and who died last weekend at the age of 85.

“I’m sure it’ll be a fitting tribute to Ian,” added Cook.

“He’s such a well respected man, both inside this club and football in general. These are always sad times, but there’s lots of good memories too.”