‘If Lee Evans doesn’t play against Sheffield United, it will lead to other issues,’ warns Paul Cook

Lee Evans
Lee Evans

Wigan Athletic will do everything in their power to ensure Lee Evans is available to face Sheffield United on New Year’s Day.

The Wales international joined Latics at the beginning of the season from the Blades initially on loan, with a view to a permanent deal being completed on January 1.

Latics had wanted to do a permanent deal at the time but ran out of time ahead of the deadline.

The Blades exercised their right to prevent Evans from facing them in the corresponding fixture at Bramall Lane back in October.

But Latics boss Paul Cook is in no doubt he should be free to play on New Year’s Day.

“I fully expect to have Lee available for the game,” Cook told the Wigan Post.

“The loan expires on the morning of the game, and he becomes a Wigan Athletic player.

“I fully understood the situation surrounding the first game, and I had no problem with it.

“This time, Lee must take the pitch.

“If Lee doesn’t take the pitch, it will be sad, and I’m sure it will lead to other issues.

Although Cook’s view is black and white, opposite number Chris Wilder held the alternative view when he conducted his pre-game media duties in South Yorkshire.

While sympathising with Cook and Latics, Wilder appeared to close the door on any chance of allowing Evans to face the Blades

“It does seem strange, in this day and age, that paperwork can’t get done on New Year’s Day,” he said.

“But that’s how it is. Lee is there on loan and, because he’s on loan, he can’t face us.”

Wilder also played down the suggestion the issue may cause a rift between him and a manager he considers one of his closest pals in the game.

“Paul speaks the same language as me, albeit in a slightly different accent,” Wilder added.

“He talks straight and is always ready to come into the office for a beer afterwards.”

Should Evans not be given the green light, Cook could bring Callum Connolly into the engine room if he perseveres with the three-man midfield he employed at Swansea on Saturday. alongside Sam Morsy and Darron Gibson.

Alternatively he could recall Josh Windass or Nathan Byrne, who were benched at the Liberty Stadium.

Forwards Will Grigg and Callum McManaman are also in contention.