Paul Cook insists Sam Morsy has been ‘targeted’ after the Wigan Athletic skipper reached the five yellow-card mark – and an automatic suspension – with only eight league games gone.
Morsy’s caution in the midweek victory over Northampton means he will miss Saturday’s tough trip to third-placed Peterborough, with second-placed Latics looking for a win that could see them overtake table-toppers Shrewsbury.
It was the only negative from another positive night and, although laughing it off with a trademark quip, Cook is not altogether happy about the situation.
“I don’t think it’s was a negative that Sammy was booked on Tuesday – I think he’s done well not to be sent off so far,” smiled Cook.
“I’ve told him he’s the first lad in all four divisions to be suspended for five yellow cards!
“Listen, I’m disappointed, but I do feel Sammy gets targeted – there’s no doubt about that.
“But at the end of the day, if you take that competitive edge away from Sammy, he wouldn’t be the same player.”
Morsy and on-loan Wolves midfielder Lee Evans have been ever-present in the engine room so far, with Cook assessing his options as to who comes in.
David Perkins would offer dependable cover, while the door could also be open for Max Power to make his first league start since he was transfer-listed over the summer and made to train with the Academy at Christopher Park, for admitting he would be open to a move to the Championship - which failed to materialise.
After being booed on to the field by a section of the DW Stadium crowd at the weekend, Cook appealed for a line to be drawn in the sand to allow the player to make amends.
As a result, the reception he received after appearing as a late substitute in midweek was far more positive, and Cook says he’d have no qualms in throwing in Power this weekend.
“We’ve all done things during our careers that we can look back on and regret,” added the Latics boss.
“Max is with us, he’s part of it, and you see his attitude to it all.
“I’m a big believer that we’re only as strong as each other, and we must stick together.
“When you do have bad days - like we had at Shrewsbury - that’s when I want the fans to clap the players off.
“I know if it’s difficult, and I know sometimes the fans see things they don’t want to see, but it’s over a period of time.
“We win together, we lose together, and at the moment we’re all happy.”