Stage is set for Wigan Athletic starlet!

Joe Gelhardt
Joe Gelhardt

Paul Cook is hoping young Joe Gelhardt can use the international break to bring himself back to the boil – and into his Wigan Athletic plans.

Gelhardt, along with Latics team-mate Jensen Weir, has linked up with the England Under-18s for a triple-header of fixtures against Australia on Friday, Brazil on Sunday and Korea Republic next Tuesday.

Having returned to the Latics fold last weekend with a cameo appearance off the bench against Barnsley – after three weeks out with a hamstring pull – the 17-year-old is looking to get back into the swing as quickly as possible.

With Latics having failed to muster a goal in open play since the opening-day win over Cardiff, Cook is desperate for as many attacking options as possible.

And he wants Gelhardt to take advantage of his half-hour run-out against the Tykes as he steps in to the international arena.

“Joe came on against Barnsley and had a shot after 20 seconds,” enthused the Latics boss.

“That’s pleasing for Joe, the way he put himself about.

"It’s another step towards where he wants to be.”

Six other Latics players are away with their countries over the next week or so.

David Marshall and Charlie Mulgrew are hoping to be involved as Scotland host Russia on Friday and Roberto Martinez’s Belgium next Monday.

Kieffer Moore is aiming to win his first cap as Wales entertain Azerbaijan on Friday and Belarus next Monday.

Scotland Under-19 duo Luke Robinson and Kyle Joseph are in line to face Japan in a double-header, while Bobby Jones has joined the Ireland Under-19s’ training camp.

Meanwhile, Olly Crankshaw scored a hat-trick as Latics’ Under-23s beat Rochdale 4-1 in a friendly.

Joe Piggott netted the other for Latics, his seventh goal of the season.