'Show me you deserve to play', challenges Wigan Athletic boss
“I think saying there are places in the team for Saturday up for grabs would be a very fair statement!”
The words of Paul Cook, who has promised to ring the changes for Wigan Athletic’s Carabao Cup visit of Stoke City on Tuesday night.
And on the back of Saturday’s 3-0 derby drubbing at Preston, he’s challenged those selected to play their way into his league XI.
“To be as fair as we can to our supporters, there will probably be 10 changes to the starting line-up,” revealed the Latics boss.
“But within that you will see a very strong Wigan Athletic side out on the pitch.
“We can’t say it’s our strongest XI – because at the moment, I don’t think anyone at the club knows what that is, with so many new players – it will be a very strong XI
“Chey Dunkley will play, Gavin Massey will play, we may risk Sammy Morsy...it’ll be made up of first-team players.
“All the new lads will be starting to give them a run-out and some minutes.”
That means the fans should get a first glimpse of the likes of summer signings Charlie Mulgrew and Dujon Sterling, with Joe Williams and Jamal Lowe in line for their first starts after dipping their toes in off the bench.
Cook will also hand the lone striking duties to 20-year-old Callum Lang, with Joe Garner aggravating a rib injury at Preston which led to new signing Kieffer Moore coming on for a longer-than-expected debut.
“Callum starts as well,” said Cook.
“He was due to start against Everton in pre-season, but he’s just been involved in a couple of unfortunate situations.
“He’s had a little dead leg, and it’s meant we’ve not seen enough of him in the side as we’d have wanted to.
“But with Joe coming off with a rib injury on Saturday, that meant Kieffer having a good run-out.
“That means there’s less of a need to give Kieffer a run-out, because the likelihood is he’ll start against Leeds at the weekend.
“That in turn gives Langy a great opportunity to step up and show what he can do.
“Jensen Weir would probably have started, but he’s had a few days off sick and will probably see him on the bench.”
Cook also cleared up the confusion surrounding Garner’s withdrawal midway through the first half at Deepdale.
Having been hit square in the face by a fierce Ben Pearson strike, Garner soldiered on before his number was called.
However, it down to an existing injury rather than the bang to the head.
“It wasn’t anything to do with concussion, nothing whatsoever,” Cook added.
“Joe came off with sore ribs, which he had going into the game, and proved too troublesome to manage.
“Danny Fox also came off with a back injury, and he’s gone for a scan.
“We’re confident it’s not going to be as bad as first thought, and we hope he’ll be available for Saturday.”
Joe Gelhardt is also in the treatment room after damaging a hamstring in the warm-up at Preston.