Paul Cook has given Kieffer Moore the green light to attack Middlesbrough after an ‘excellent’ Wigan Athletic full debut.
Moore put in a sterling shift up top on his own against Leeds at the weekend – despite Joe Williams’ early red card giving him even less support for an hour.
The ex-Barnsley man, who joined Latics a fortnight ago, lasted 80 minutes before being hooked for Kal Naismith.
But Cook says the subsitution was made purely with tonight’s trip to Teesside in mind.
“I felt a bit sorry for Kieffer, who I thought was excellent,” said the Latics boss.
“The substitution with 10 minutes to go was totally geared at saving him for Middlesbrough.
“It was pointless keeping him on the pitch with the game gone.”
Fellow striker Joe Garner remains on the injured list with the rib injury he aggravated at Preston 10 days ago, while Josh Windass damaged a calf in training last week.
With Joe Gelhardt injuring a hamstring strain in the warm-up at Deepdale, and Anthony Pilkington out for a month with a quad injury, there’s even more responsibility on the shoulders of Moore.
At least Latics have an international break to look forward to following Saturday’s trip to QPR.
But Cook says it won’t be a time for his squad to put feet up.
“We won’t be having a break at all,” added the Latics boss.
“On Saturday we had lads making their debuts, playing together for the first time.
“It’ll probably be the same again on Saturday.
“And the time we get over the international break will be spent trying to get better, and trying to integrate better.
“Whatever other teams choose to do, that’s up to them.”
With Williams suspended for tonight’s game at Middlesbrough, Lewis Macleod is in line for a recall to the centre of the midfield alongside captain Sam Morsy.