Wigan Athletic defender ready for baptism of fire

Cedric Kipre
Cedric Kipre

Cedric Kipre is relishing the challenge of being last man standing at the back for Wigan Athletic ahead of Wednesday night’s visit of Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion.

Latics have a defensive disaster on their hands as they aim to turn around a wretched recent run that has seen them winless in eight matches since seeing off Nottingham Forest at the DW on October 20.

First, Danny Fox was last week ruled out until the New Year with a groin problem.

Then, in the last minute of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Luton, Charlie Mulgrew pulled up lame with a calf injury.

Incredibly, seconds later, Chey Dunkley received a second yellow card that brings about a one-match suspension.

With goalkeeper David Marshall also unlikely to return after injuring his neck in training last Friday, Paul Cook has real problems as he sets up his side to deal with the in-form Baggies.

However, Kipre – the only available senior centre-back at the moment – says Latics will embrace, rather than fear, the challenge.

“It’s going to be a good game for us, on the back of a few bad results,” he told the Wigan Post.

“We are desperate to put that right and there’s no better time to do that than against the league leaders.

“As a player you look forward to playing against the top sides, it’s why you play the game.

“Of course we know they are in a good period and will provide us with a tough test, but we are looking forward to it.”

Kipre could end up being partnered at the heart of the defence by utility man Kal Naismith – who was left out of the trip to Luton after being booed by a section of his own supporters the previous weekend against Reading.

Despite having featured mostly in midfield during his 18 months with Latics, the ex-Rangers man was outstanding while filling in at centre-back – ironically, after Kipre was sent off inside the opening 15 minutes – in the 2-1 victory at Leeds on Good Friday.

Cook’s other option would be to dip into his Development Squad which, other than the promotion of Young England star Joe Gelhardt this term, hasn’t really occured during his tenure.

Whatever the manager decides, Kipre is aiming to step up to the plate in Latics’ hour of need.

“I don’t know who else I’ll be playing, but obviously there’s no other senior centre-backs in the squad!” he added.

“That will make it extra tough for us but hopefully we will be all right.

“Of course there will be extra responsibility for me, because normally I’m the youngest, least experienced centre-back on the field.

“But it’s a role I’m looking forward to, it will be good for me as a player.”