Wigan Athletic starlet: I respect the gaffer's decisions
Joe Gelhardt insists he’s content to bide his time and wait for his chance in the Wigan Athletic starting XI.
The 17-year-old made national headlines last month when scoring a fantastic goal – his first in senior football – at Hull in only his third appearance off the bench.
Since then, however, he’s been limited to two more late cameos, totally 28 minutes.
With the side struggling for goals this term – only Middlesbrough (11) have scored fewer than Wigan’s tally of 12 – some fans have questioned why he hasn’t been used more.
Gelhardt, though, has faith in Paul Cook’s management of the situation.
“I’m still very young” he told the Wigan Post. “I haven’t played that many minutes, but that’s up to the gaffer and I respect his decisions.
“He speaks to me on a regular basis, telling me to stick with it. He tells me I’m young and he doesn’t want to rush me into anything, and I understand that.
“Obviously I want to play, but you’ve got to have a good attitude whether you’re playing or not.
“You’ve got to think about the long term as well as the short term.
“All I can do is keep my head down, keep working hard, and wait for my chance.”
Gelhardt’s club situation is in stark contrast with international level, with ‘Joffy’ even captaining England Under-18s on a recent mini-tour of Europe.
“It was a great experience for me and the team,” he acknowledged.
“I was lucky enough to be captain for the first game, which was obviously a very proud moment for me and my family.
“When the manager told me, it was such a surreal moment. I was straight on the phone to my mum, and she was made up.
“Then, in the third game, scoring after 12 seconds was just unbelievable. You’re just hoping to settle into the game...and it just happened so quick!
“Unfortunately, due to work, my mum and my family couldn’t get over to watch me, which they normally do.
“But they were all watching on the live stream, and they were in touch with me straight after the games.
“I got so many messages from people who’d watched from over here, and it’s such a great help. Hearing nice things about you, on twitter and stuff, motivates you to do even better next time.”
And there was no risk of him returning to Euxton with an inflated ego.
“Ha no, I’m still just the same lad,” he added. “Straight back into it, keep my head down and work hard.”