Paul Cook has revealed his desire - ‘about as categoric as I can be’ - to keep Will Grigg at Wigan Athletic, despite rumours linking him to Sunderland.
The Black Cats have apparently made the Northern Ireland striker their number one target as they aim to secure promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt.
And it’s easy to understand why, given his FOUR previous promotions from League One.
What’s not quite so easy to understand is why Latics would offload their star striker - and a real fans’ favourite to boot.
He’s only started two of the last nine matches, but Cook says that’s because of a change in style of play necessitated by the injury-enforced absence of Nick Powell, Michael Jacobs and Gavin Massey.
And Cook has moved to do everything he can to nip such talk in the bud.
“What you have to be careful of with speculation, there is always two, three, even four sides to a story,” Cook said.
“As far as I’m concerned, as manager of Wigan Athletic...Will Grigg is, not our main striker, because that would be disrespectful to the others.
“But he is very much a focal point of what we’re trying to do, within the system of how we want to play.
“The greatest success I’ve achieved as a manager here has been with a forward line of Powell, Jacobs, Massey and Grigg.
“We haven’t had those players on the pitch together since (the win at) Stoke (in August).
“I am trying to strengthen this team, not weaken it. That is about as categoric as I can be.
“Within that, there are always other sides to stories, and a million different angles.
“But I can only reiterate my best days at this club have been with those four players up front.
“Those four players compliment each other very well, they bring an attacking edge to the team.
“My belief is one day soon we’ll see those four players back together on a pitch for Wigan Athletic.”
Cook also says Grigg will not have been affected by rumours of him leaving - because he knows how important he the club.
“I would like to think that I speak to my players a lot - and me and Will have had conversations,” the Latics boss revealed.
“It’s hard in football, because for a manager to say ‘nobody is for sale’ would just be wrong.
“But are we looking to sell players? Not a chance. Why would we?
“Will Grigg is one of the mainstays of what has brought me success at Wigan Athletic.
“You only need go back to the Manchester City game, and the only player to ever score a goal without a single team-mate in the same half as himself!
“I can’t stop speculation, no-one can. I can’t stop other clubs bidding for our players.
“But all I can is go on and on about partnerships...and for me, the Grigg and Powell partnership has been just fantastic.
“The front four partnership of Powell, Grigg, Jacobs, Massey is a proper front four.
“Will knows what I am waiting for, to get Will back in the team - the other three to be fit and available.
“We have had this discussion behind the scenes, and he knows my thoughts.
“I appreciate some fans will see the team sheet and Will’s not playing, and wonder what’s going on.
“But while we’ve had to stutter through a difficult period, it’s been more of a mix and match.
“Most weeks it’s been putting your hands up to the ceiling to stop it leaking.”
Cook is also confident Grigg will feature in plenty more memorable days in a Latics shirt.
“Stan Ternent gave me a great piece of advice when I first started off in management,” he said.
“He told me if I was ever struggling, always look back to your best games, and pick the same team.
“When I shut my eyes, Will Grigg’s been in every single one of those sides.
“I’m not suddenly going to shut my eyes now and dismiss him.
“And I have had this discussion with Will Grigg.
“Does that mean in the future Will Grigg won’t ever move?
“I can’t say that. Nobody knows. Things can change.
“But we’re in a position where we’ve been weak for a couple for months, and we only want to get stronger.”