‘Only time will tell’ if cup distracts Wigan Athletic from promotion

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

Manager Paul Cook believes ‘only time will tell’ whether Wigan Athletic’s FA Cup run will distract from, or aid, their promotion push.

Latics host West Ham this weekend hoping for a second Premier League scalp in a row, after dumping Bournemouth out in the last round after a replay.

With promotion rivals Blackburn and Shrewsbury in league action having been knocked out of the cup, Latics could see their lead at the top of League One cut to two points this afternoon.

But Cook says there’s no point worrying about a situation that can’t be avoided.

“Only time will tell whether this game is a distraction to our league campaign,” Cook insisted.

“There is a debate about whether teams that do well in cup competitions can have a dip in the league – and that can happen.

“But then you’re looking at your squad strength, your mental strength, and how you can handle that.

“It’s natural for things to sometimes go a little bit flat after a big cup-tie, and we have to guard against that next Tuesday when we go to Rochdale.

“Fitness-wise it shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s important the players keep themselves up mentally for each challenge that lies ahead.”

Thinmgs are going swimmingly at the moment for Latics and Cook, who this week added his third January signing in the shape of Swansea loan midfielder Jay Fulton.

But the manager insists the campaign will only be deemed a success or a failure in May - when all of the prizes have been handed out.

“Our lads have been playing well for most of the season,” he added.

“Obviously we have little dips in form, like every team does, where we don’t reach the standards previously set.

“But that’s probably due to the fact those standards have been set so high it’s difficult to maintain them.

“The lads have been a credit to themselves all season, they always bounce back from a negative result.

“Even when we’ve not played well, we’ve been finding ways to win – and that’s a very useful asset to have.

“We know there’s so much work still to be done, but the lads are embracing it as a group.

“How any team manages disappointment will decide their fate.

“Those players and teams who don’t deal well with disappointment will struggle.

“As a club, we pride ourselves on the ability to go again and again.

“And we’ll find out at the end of the race whether we get what we deserve.”