Paul Cook hailed Gary Roberts as his ‘go-to man’ after the golden oldie set Wigan Athletic on course for a vital 3-0 victory over Aston Villa - then backed him to play on for at least another season.
Latics were in desperate need of three points, having won only once in the last 14 matches, but never looked back once Roberts had put them in front on 41 minutes.
Fit-again Michael Jacobs with a diving header and Joe Garner from the penalty spot made the game safe in the final quarter.
But Cook pinpointed his long-time associate - who turns 35 in March - for setting the standard during an all-action display.
“Gary’s never let me down, not once,” enthused the Latics boss.
“This is why he’s played for me at Chesterfield, Portsmouth and now Wigan.
“Unfortunately the years are going to catch up with him eventually.
“But when you’ve got the quality Gary has, it never leaves you.
“As we get players back, the likelihood is we might not see Gary as much as we have been doing.
“But you ask our fans what they think of him - after this goal, the goal against Blackburn - and they’ll tell you how much they appreciate him.”
Roberts has signed one-year deals with Latics in each of the last two summers, and Cook says there will be a similar contract on the table at the end of this term as well.
When asked whether Roberts had another 12 months in him, Cook roared: “Without a shadow of a doubt!
“He probably won’t play as much as he has been in future, but you need players like Gary in and around the football club.
“Noel Hunt was the same while he was here...they’re infectious, they love football, they train well, it hurts them when they lose.
“Of course we want to keep him here for as long as we can.”