To play or not to play?
That was the question for Paul Cook and the rest of the Wigan Athletic hierarchy ahead of this weekend’s trip to Scunthorpe.
With three players – skipper Sam Morsy (Egypt) and young goalkeepers Owen Evans (Wales Under-21s) and Matija Sarkic (Montenegro Under-21) – called up for international duty, Latics would have had every right to request the day off.
That was the case last month, when they elected to put back their home game against Northampton for that very reason.
Lee Evans, who was also called up last month with Wales, this time missed the cut, and it’s probably for that reason Latics have elected to fulfil the fixture.
It’s a risky strategy, given Wales have already had several injury cry-offs, meaning Evans could theoretically still have been called away before Friday night’s important qualifier in Georgia.
But I think it’s a risk Cook is entitled to take.
The manager’s spoken at length about his fear of a fixture pile-up and, with a couple of Checkatrade Trophy games still to fit in before Christmas, blank midweek dates are scarce.
Plus the recent appearances in the first team off the bench of Max Power and David Perkins will have reassured him of the strength in depth.
It’s fair to say there was a question mark hanging over the heads of both men not too long ago.
Power was on the transfer list and training with the Academy at Christopher Park, while Perkins was linked with a few clubs ahead of the transfer deadline.
Both men, of course, remained at the DW, and have since shown they have plenty to offer.
And that shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
On Wigan’s last adventure in this division just two short years ago, both men were instrumental in lifting the League One title.
Perkins scooped the board for the Player of the Year honours, with Power not far behind in second place.
This, remember, in a squad containing Yanic Wildschut, Michael Jacobs and 29-goal Will Grigg.
Both men have been there and done it at this level – and can do so again.
It’s fair to say neither will look back on last term with much satisfaction, with Power failing to score from midfield and Perkins dropping down the pecking order.
But both have plenty to bring to the table and, in the absence of Morsy this weekend, one of them will have a gilt-edged opportunity to show the management they have much to offer.
There was, of course, another reason why Latics have elected not to postpone this weekend’s game.
Right from the dry, scouse mouth of boss Cook.
“Sammy would only have been suspended for the new date anyway...”
As one door closes, another one, as they say, opens.
Just hours after one Latics legend, Nicky Eaden, was confirmed as Chesterfield’s new assistant boss, came news of Lee McCulloch’s departure from Kilmarnock.
Best wishes to both men who still have plenty to offer the game.
Interesting snippet in L’Equipe this week:
“Memphis Depay threw his shirt to Lyon’s fans after Sunday’s 3-3 draw at Angers (Wigan’s twin town – there’s ALWAYS a Wigan link).
“The fans threw it back.”
Now that’s brutal!
Bolton chairman Ken Anderson’s latest notes criticise the media for bringing up “historical facts” in relation to the club’s poor start to the season.
How dare the media report what’s going on by using things like facts and context!