Talking football: Break plays right into Latics’ hands

Wigan Athletic's players are in good spirits at the moment
Wigan Athletic's players are in good spirits at the moment
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It’s back to business for Wigan Athletic this weekend as they return to the job of maintaining their League One promotion push.

Not everyone was pleased with the weekend off – especially those fans who’d earmarked the trip to Rochdale for a ‘liquid afternoon’ since the fixtures were released – but it’s nice to switch off now and again.

And Latics would have been boosted by improving their standing in the table without even kicking a ball.

No-one would have had struggling Plymouth down to win at high-flying Bradford, but that’s what can happen in this division.

Meaning the Bantams will be play catch-up when they travel to the DW Stadium this weekend – which will hopefully play into Wigan’s hands.

It’s been mostly plain sailing for Paul Cook and his men this term, give or take the odd setback.

There was nothing much in the early defeat at Shrewsbury, while Latics should have been out of sight well before Peterborough came on strong in the second half to win a five-goal thriller at London Road.

Other than that, Latics have been relatively untroubled, and that bodes well given the side are yet to really get into their stride.

With the long winter months ahead – and the inevitable injuries and suspensions that will hit all clubs – Latics look in good shape to be able to withstand any obstacles that may present themselves.

Michael Jacobs should be back to his best after the luxury of a three-week break to allow a thigh problem to fully heal, and that will be music to the ears of Cook, whose side have stuttered slightly with their creative spark slightly off colour.

Cook elected to call off last weekend’s game at Rochdale after Lee Evans became the fourth international call-up – along with Sam Morsy, Owen Evans and Matija Sarkic.

But I wonder how relevant the injury to Jacobs – and the opportunity to give him another seven days of rest, after being stood down from FA Cup duty the previous week – was to that thinking.

The game will now be played at the end of January, when Latics will be further boosted by the return of Shaun MacDonald, Christian Walton and Craig Morgan.

The extra game will not be welcomed, but the squad will hopefully be in even better shape to cope – maybe even with the addition of a new signing or two.

How sad to learn this week of the plight of former Celtic and Manchester United midfielder Liam Miller, who is thought to be battling pancreatic cancer.

Aged just 36, Miller has the thoughts and prayers of the whole of the footballing world behind him as he prepares for his biggest challenge.

Speaking this week to Noel Hunt, Miller’s former room-mate with Ireland Under-21s, it was clear how much the news had affected everyone who knows him.

As Hunt himself said, if best wishes and positive thoughts have anything to do with it, he’ll be okay.

Great to see William Kvist starring for Denmark against Ireland this week, having moved on from his disappointing stay with Latics three seasons ago.

I remember the first time I met Kvist, down at Christopher Park, shortly after he’d arrived from Fulham.

He’d left before I got there, to return to the Wrightington Hotel, where he was staying, only to insist on driving back to speak to me – what a nice bloke!

Mind you he did promise me (in the Wigan Observer) Latics wouldn’t get relegated in 2014/15 because the squad was too good...so he’s clearly not to be trusted...!

Well done to Paul Cook for being named League One manager of the month for October.

And a huge pat on the back to Port Vale striker Tom Pope, for winning the League Two player of the month award – and then supplying the following acceptance speech via Twitter:

“An award that’s for all my team mates! Without their sh*t crosses, and my ability to turn them into good ones, none of this would be possible!”

Very funny, but also a bit disingenuous.

My former colleague Richard Bean, a staunch Vale supporter, assures me their crosses are not that good...

Fair play to Chris Gunter, who wore the Wales armband on Tuesday night against Panama, to mark his 85th cap – which equalled the outfield national record of Gary Speed.

To call Gunter an unsung hero of Wales’ recent resurgence would be something of an understatement.

But how about this stat that shows just how consistent – and important to the cause – the Reading right-back has been.

Since his competitive debut against Ireland in October, 2007) Gunter has missed four internationals.

Twice he played for the U-21s, and was banned for one of the other ‘misses’.

‘You couldn’t make it up’ of the week...

“The EFL stood down referee Ben Toner from Blackpool’s home game against Portsmouth...because his name sounds like ‘Bent Owner’.”

No, seriously!!