Wigan Athletic boss eyes 'great opportunity'

Paul Cook says Wigan Athletic have now given themselves ‘a great opportunity’ to stay in the Championship.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 2:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 2:48 pm
Anthony Pilkington

Back-to-back wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds have slashed the gap to safety to only two points, with 16 games remaining.

And heading into Saturday’s televised derby against Preston (12.30pm kick-off), Cook says the squad is desperate to get back out there and keep the momentum going.

“To go from seven points adrift to only two in the space of four days is huge, and we just need to keep winning games,” he told the Wigan Post.

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“It gives us a great opportunity for the rest of the season.

“As I’ve always said, if we win games we will stay up.

“If we lose games we won’t stay up.

“No-one knows what the future holds, for teams at the top and the bottom of the league – all you can do is win your games.

“And if we carry on the way we’ve been going in the last week or so, we won’t have any problems with that.”

Jamal Lowe’s last-minute winning goal last Tuesday against the Owls was followed by Joe Williams’ freak effort from a corner at Elland Road last Saturday – leaving a few teams now looking over the shoulders in the table.

“To be 1-0 down at half-time on Tuesday night, to finish the week with six points is a great achievement,” acknowledged Cook.

“That tells you a lot about the team spirit and the desire and the work ethic in the squad.”

Cook has also been boosted with three new signings – Leon Balogun, Jan Mlakar and Alex Dobre – arriving on deadline day to bolster the squad for the run-in.

“Hopefully the lads will get integrated into the club over the next couple of weeks,” the Latics boss added.

“We were looking to bring in a couple, because obviously we lost Josh Windass as well on deadline day.

“And we’ve been able to add another three who will certainly boost the squad for the run-in.

“As the games start ticking by to single figures, the squad becomes even more important.

“We’ll need everyone – including Kieran (Dowell) and Antony (Pilkington) – back fit and all hands on deck.”

Dowell was ruled out for a month after being stretchered off against Wednesday.

But Pilkington – who has been missing since the Boxing Day draw with Derby – is back in the fold.

“Anthony trained on Friday before the Leeds game for the first time,” revealed Cook. “And we’re delighted with that.”