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Less of the ‘negative stuff’ - Wigan Athletic boss

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Paul Cook says he’s not in the slightest bit concerned with his Wigan Athletic defence despite an uncharacteristically leaky start to the campaign.

Cook’s men enjoyed the best defensive record in the EFL last season, but have shipped eight goals in their three matches so far this term heading into this weekend’s visit of Nottingham Forest.

It’s been a much-changed backline, with Reece James, Antonee Robinson and Cedric Kipre being thrown in to plug the gaps left by injuries and departures – and Cook says teething troubles are to be expected.

“People seem to want to pick up on negative stuff, it’s what football’s about these days,” the Latics boss moaned.

“We’ve got two very young full-backs who’ve never played for us before, and a centre-half who only came in the building 24 hours before the first game.

“Yet some people just expect us to be keeping clean sheets right away in one of the most competitive leagues in the world.

“Feel free to suggest any defensive coaches if you think that might help, I’m all for trying anything!

“But my way is to keep backing the lads, keep backing the goalkeeper, keep being positive and keep enjoying the game.

“When you’re conceding goals, the natural thing is to try and do something different.

“Well I can assure our supporters that what we are doing is very similar to what we were doing last season when we couldn’t move for clean sheets.

“If you look at last season, Nathan Byrne was everyone’s player of the year, and Dan Burn would have been about a millimetre behind him.

“All of a sudden you’re without both of those players, and that’s what you have to deal with in football.

“At the same time it’s gives other lads chance to stake their claim, and then you have a selection dilemma when everyone’s fit.”

Midfielders Leonardo Da Silva Lopes and Kal Naismith filled the full-back positions at Rotherham in midweek, with Alex Bruce partnering Kipre at the heart of the defence.

However, Cook says he’s not reading much into the 3-1 Carabao Cup defeat.

“We like to think we know our players, so one performance at Rotherham wouldn’t necessarily make you jump to a conclusion,” he added.

“What you can’t do at this stage of a season is keep everyone happy.

“You’ll always have some players not in the side, and squads are so important in this day and age.

“The competition for places is stronger than it’s been since I’ve been here.

“My job as a manager is to keep the dressing room as happy and vibrant as I possibly can for as long as I possibly can.”