Toney looks to cement his spot

Ivan Toney has three goals this season
Ivan Toney has three goals this season

Ivan Toney came off the bench just over an hour into last Saturday’s win against Southend to play a key role in a memorable finale.

With the score delicately placed at 1-0 in Wigan’s favour, he helped his side to a 3-0 win, scoring his third goal of the season in the process and seeing Latics go top of League One.

Having been used to coming off the bench this season, the performance convinced manager Paul Cook to give the 21-year-old a starting spot at Gillingham on Tuesday – and he admits catching Cook’s attention is never far from his mind.

“Of course - you’re always looking to give him a nudge, whether that’s training well or doing well on the pitch,” he said.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to do, and hopefully this goal can set me off on a run.”

Toney was called onto the pitch to replace Will Grigg last Saturday, with the pair reversing the roles at the Priestfield Stadium mid-week.

And even though competition for places is strong during the push for promotion back to the Championship, Toney says everyone is helping each other along.

“Griggy’s a great striker, and he’s been doing it day in, day out for a while now,” he explained.

“We try and help each other where we can.

“If I’m thrown in, he’ll wish me the best – and vice versa.

“We’re not fighting each other, we’re helping each other along the way.”

Although Tuesday night’s draw saw Latics slip off the top of the table, favourable results this Saturday, when Wigan visit Blackpool and leaders Shrewsbury take on Fleetwood, who are pushing for a play-off spot, can see them as pace-setters again.

But, as manager Cook keeps asserting, there is a long way to go before the end of the season, though confidence is high thanks to quality throughout the squad.

“We’re all together as a squad and that’s what’s helping us to have such a good season,” said Toney.

“You can see the quality in the squad, and that’s shown in the amount of chances being created.

“As a striker it’s obviously a great team to be playing in, and all we have to do is put the chances away.

“This team will always create chances, it’s the way the manager wants us to play and long may it continue.

“We just try to play our way, the way we want to, and be patient if necessary.

“Whether it finished 1-0 or 3-0, you still get the same amount of points.

“What you don’t want to do is push forward too much and leave gaps at the back for the opposition to exploit.”

Despite warning against being too aggressive on the throttle, Toney was pleased to find himself on the scoresheet for the first time since August in last Saturday’s win.

But he thinks that shouldn’t come at the expense of the team pushing towards the top – and says the main focus has to be on promotion.

“As a striker, to be back on the scoresheet is where you want to be,” he said.

“You need to be in the right place at the right time to accept the chances.

“But the most important thing is the three points and to be near the top of the league is amazing.

“At the same time we’re not putting too much emphasis on it, because it is still early.

“The only league position that matters is at the end of the season.

“But all we can do is keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully it’ll be good enough in the end.”