As Nick Powell prepares for his 100th Wigan Athletic appearance, assistant manager Leam Richardson said players of his calibre can push the club towards a bright future.
Powell nailed his colours to the Latics mast during a January transfer window knee-deep in speculation over the star player’s future, and his 12 goals so far this term only tell part of the story of why fans were delighted he wanted to stay.
And as their promotion ambitions come into full focus at Walsall tonight following Sunday’s cruel FA Cup exit, Richardson hopes Powell’s influence will be felt around the DW for a while yet.
“To be a good servant for any club, like quite a few of our players now in the squad, it’s good for players like that,” he said.
“That’s the calibre of Nick and long may that continue.”
Powell’s 99 appearances so far have come in two stints.
He played 23 times between September 2013 and May 2014 on loan from Manchester United before arriving at Latics permanently in July 2016, playing a further 76 times since then.
He will celebrate his 24th birthday on Friday before Latics face Bury, and Richardson joked the former Premier League player still has one area to improve on.
“He’s not a young lad any more - he’ll have to start growing up a bit,” smiled the assistant boss.
“The club is growing from strength to strength and that’s why we have players like that in our squad.
“I’m not going to say anything that other people don’t say about Nick.”
Powell featured in each round of Latics’ remarkable FA Cup run this term, only not making it onto the field for the 3-0 win over Bournemouth in January, where he was an unused substitute.
But last Sunday, his introduction off the bench in the 66th minute for Gavin Massey wasn’t enough to spur Latics to a fourth victory over top flight opposition in the tournament.
Richardson also admitted Powell influences not just the players around him but the coaching team as well.
“I’ve managed to work with him now for an number of months. We test each other,” he explained.
“He tests me as a coach and I’ll test him as a player and we form that bond as we go.
“Long may that continue.
“We have some real top quality talent at the club and we can progress like we want to.”