Shrewsbury calling

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So it’s back to the day job on Saturday, and two weeks since our last league match with Portsmouth it feels like an age since we were in competitive action. Of course last time out our winning start to the season came to an end, in a match we really should have won.

I still maintain it was a strange decision to postpone the Northampton match last weekend, especially with Northampton in such dire straits at that moment in time. I can see why Paul Cook wouldn’t have wanted to be without his first choice midfielders with Lee Evans and Sam Morsy away on international duty, but at the same time think the squad would have had more than enough to cope.

Nonetheless I’m sure it will have been a beneficial week of rest for Cook and his squad, Monday night saw a number of first teamers surprisingly turn out in the Lancashire senior cup defeat to Blackburn. Although a defeat on penalties wasn’t the ideal result, it will have been a good work out for the likes of Noel Hunt, Alex Bruce, Gary Roberts and Will Grigg.

Speaking of Alex Bruce it will be interesting to see if he or the impressive Terrell Thomas get the nod to replace the suspended Chey Dunkley at Shrewsbury on Saturday afternoon.

I’m looking forward to the trip to Shropshire on Saturday afternoon, it was the scene of one of our finest wins back in 2016 and the win that probably saw us go from potential promotion hopefuls to title winners in all but name. What we would give for a similar scoreline this weekend, it certainly won’t be that easy this time around.

Jason Pearce agaisnt ShrewsburyShrewsbury have made an impressive start to the season and with four wins from five sit above us in the League One table, on paper with the strength of our side and the form we’ve been in we should have more than enough – but football is a funny game. It can throw up shocks when you least expect it.

Although we didn’t play last week I think the biggest victory of the week was managing to retain all of our big hitters, if you had asked any Latics fan who they thought would leave at the end of last season no doubt Nick Powell, Dan Burn, Michael Jacobs and Will Grigg would be top of that list. The fact we retained all of them underlies the strength we now have in that squad, and hopefully the commitment from the corridors of power at the DW to the manager. The complaints about losing Alex Gilbey should be tempered, considering he hadn’t started a league game all season and when you see just who we had managed to retain.

Saturday begins a crucial run of fixtures against sides at the top end of the table, at the end we should have a good understanding of where we will be at the end of the season. Let’s hope we continue in a similar vein to the way we’ve started.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Post’s 12th Man column, Friday 8th September 2017.

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