Wigan Athletic v Hull City: Early team news

Wigan Athletic are ready to make do and mend for the three matches in a week that will decide their Championship fate.
'Mr Versatile' Kal Naismith will be a key man for Latics again for the visit of Hull'Mr Versatile' Kal Naismith will be a key man for Latics again for the visit of Hull
'Mr Versatile' Kal Naismith will be a key man for Latics again for the visit of Hull

While the administrators toil off the field to find a buyer to secure the long-term future of the club, Paul Cook and his players are doing everything they can to stay in the division.

Having secured their safety already, they now have to do so again, with a 12-point penalty looming from the EFL.

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However, the form since the turn of the year has been so good that a return of six or seven points from the last nine on offer could well be enough.

Latics being Latics, nothing is ever that simple, and Danny Fox’s red card at Barnsley on Saturday has ruled him out of the run-in.

The club did appeal the decision, but were told last night they’d been unsuccessful.

With Chey Dunkley out since February with a broken leg and Leon Balogun tweaking a groin at Brentford on July 4, Cedric Kipre is the last man standing at the back.

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While Balogun has an outside chance of making tonight’s visit of fellow strugglers Hull, assistant boss Leam Richardson says the flexibility in the squad means the situation is manageable.

“Lads have done certain jobs for us around the pitch all season,” he said.

“Kal Naismith has played there a lot this season, Lee Evans is ready to step in, Lewis Macleod can do a job there.

“We’ve got lads champing at the bit to play, and to do a job for the side wherever they can.

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“The gaffer’s always big on the fact the job spec stays the same, but the personnel may differ.”

Saturday’s point at Barnsley – which effectively killed off the Tykes’ hopes of avoiding the drop – was even more impressive given the fact Latics played the last 20 minutes with 10 men.

However, boss Cook still showed his intent by making attacking substitutions late on to try to force a winner.

“The manager’s not one to take a backward step, whether you’re a goal down or a man down,” Richardson recognised. “He’s always one for taking a game by the scruff of the neck, and it was more of the same.

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“It’s not the first time we’ve been down to 10 men, lads know their jobs, and we stood up to the task in as commendable a way as we could.”

If Latics could manage to stay up despite the off-field carnage, it would surely go down as one of the greatest achievements in the club’s history – something Richardson is well aware of.

“It’s the old saying, I can only control what I can control,” he added. “We’ve got to be as positive and buoyant as we possibly can.

“We’re blessed to work in a great industry, which sometimes takes a turn. We’re well aware so many people around the club have lost their jobs, and it’s up to us to represent them as well as we can.”