Paul Cook has admitted for the first time the Nick Powell contract situation is ‘a matter of priority’ for Wigan Athletic.
Powell has entered the last 12 months of his current deal and, as things stand, would be able to leave on a free transfer next summer.
The situation has been muddied by the ongoing takeover by Hong Kong-based International Entertainment Corporation, which is taking longer than initially hoped.
But Cook has move to reassure fans that the club is well aware of the need to tie down a player who has kickstarted his career since arriving at the DW in the summer of 2016.
“Nick represents this club the way I, the staff and the fans would want him to,” gushed Cook.
“We’re not speaking any more about injuries and getting minutes on the pitch.
“We’re speaking about a lad who has the ability to change every single football match he plays in.
“He’s training every day, he’s maturing as a young man, and he’s great to be around.
“We’re all seeing the benefit of that out there on the pitch, and long may that continue.”
Cook is well aware of the concern among the supporters regarding a player who has already been linked with a host of rival clubs.
And he has moved to reassure everyone that Powell – and others in the same boat, such as skipper Sam Morsy and player of the year Nathan Byrne – that tying up key players is top of his ‘to-do’ list as soon as the takeover is completed.
“Obviously with the takeover where it’s at...what’s high on the list of priorities of everybody at the club is addressing the situation of the lads who are out of contract,” he said.
“I think any Wigan fan can see we’re trying to build a good, young side, full of energy, which plays in a way that represents the club properly.
“That’s not just Nick Powell – there’s plenty of other lads affected who we need to get under contract.
“I think the players know those kinds of contract talks are coming.
“And I think under the current chairman, those contract talks would have been imminent.
“It’s just the timing that’s a little bit out for everyone. But it’s something we’re going to address as a club, for sure.”
Cook also retains a pragmatic view of the interest his aces are generating elsewhere.
“Dan Burn left us the other week, and I know I can’t stop that happening,” he added.
“If we’re doing well on the field, the likelihood is that other clubs will want our players.
“The more players of ours who are in demand, the better we are doing.
“But making sure all our players are under contract is a matter of priority.”