Wigan Athletic wonderkid 'must be managed well'

Paul Cook says Joe Gelhardt’s journey to Wigan Athletic first-team starter will be gradual rather than immediate – to avoid ‘ too much pressure too soon’.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 12:08 pm
Joe Gelhardt

The 17-year-old once again underlined his potential during the international fortnight with England Under-18s.

Captaining the side in Poland, he scored two goals in a 5-2 win for the Young Lions. Then, in Austria, he opened the scoring after just TWELVE SECONDS, in a 3-2 victory.

The clamour has begun for Gelhardt to be given his first start for Latics, who have scored only nine goals in their 11 league games so far – only Barnsley (eight) have fewer.

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Cook, though, says it’s not as simple as that.

“Joffy’s a special player, and the two goals he’s scored for us – against Burnley in pre-season and at Hull in the league – sum him up,” the Cook.

“He is so instinctive it’s untrue, he has the ability to find space where there is absolutely none. And he has the biggest quality of all in the game – he knows how to score goals.

“The most important thing now is we manage him well. It’s important to remember the lad’s only 17.

“And we’ve got to be so important we don’t put too much pressure on him too soon, starting every week, etc, all of the above. I think that will happen for him quite naturally for him soon.”

Cook also revealed he sees Gelhardt’s role in the side as a secondary striker, or No.10, rather than straight through the middle.

“In my opinion, Joffy needs to play off a big man, or someone else,” Cook added at the club’s fans forum this week.

“Asking him to lead the lead at the moment, as a No.9, would be a tough one for him.”