Nathan Byrne’s ‘strong character’ will get him through, says Wigan Athletic boss

Nathan Byrne
Nathan Byrne

Paul Cook says he’ll have no qualms about naming Nathan Byrne in the Latics side at Hull tonight – despite a difficult few days since the player received racist abuse on social media.

Byrne was sent the message after Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Bristol City, with Latics immediately releasing a statement to express their ‘anger’.

While his team-mates have been quick to offer support, Cook is adamant Byrne possesses the mental strength to be able to focus on his football.

When asked if Byrne would be starting in a massive game at both ends of the Championship table, Cook replied: “Without a shadow of a doubt.

“Nathan’s a good, strong character, he’s a fantastic young man.

“He’ll take it in his stride, and know exactly where it’s (the message) come from and where it deserves to go back to.”

Cook has become the latest member of the Latics family to condemn the abuse received by one of the most popular players at the club.

“Do you know, I would love to be able to say: ‘I don’t want to speak about this’,” he said.

“But that wouldn’t be right...that wouldn’t be right.

“Unfortunately for football, the game suffers a lot of blame for stuff that is going on elsewhere.

“This is not just a football problem - it’s a social problem.”

Cook may be forced into tweaking his side for the game, although he’s playing his cards close to his chest.

“Unfortunately we’ve got a few bumps and bruises from the weekend, which we’ll try and keep private,” he added.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a depleted squad, but there’s certain one or two issues we’re having to manage.”