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20 April 2018

Watch Latics boss Paul Cook's pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Fleetwood Town in Sky Bet League One.

  • WATCH: Paul Cook's pre-Fleetwood Town (A) press conference
  • Boss on potential promotion at Highbury Stadium, team news and John Sheridan
  • Cook: "We have got a very professional group of players that have worked so hard all year and tomorrow is the next part of our journey in the season."

Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook spoke to the press ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet League One clash at Fleetwood Town where his side would win promotion if they win and Shrewsbury Town fail to do so against Bury.

"There are four games to go and we have a points total that we know will achieve us promotion," Cook said.

"Until it's done, it's not done and over the years football has provided so many consistent turn-ups and things that have surprised and shocked people that you have to make sure your focus is on the next game and that's Fleetwood for us.

"It's funny because you play 46 games and a win is three points no matter what game it is but the games in April seem to take on more importance than the games in November when really, they're the same.

"We are going to finish with a points tally in the 90s and possibly, if everything goes extremely well, in the 100s. It's a fantastic points tally."

Cook made changes for Tuesday night's 1-0 win over Oxford United, which put Latics on the brink of promotion and, whilst he expects Nathan Byrne to start against Fleetwood, other changes could be likely.

"The squad has played a massive part and that will be important tomorrow because, as our fans would appreciate, some of our lads have played a lot of games and one or two lads do look leggy," Cook added.

"Adrenaline and emotion can carry you so far and tomorrow, if results go our way, we can be promoted and that'll carry the boys but, eventually there will be a kick back to that - if you look at Nathan Byrne, he missed Tuesday night, because his body was starting to fatigue and the signs were that he would get injured if he carried on, so Nathan comes back into the squad fresh for tomorrow.

"You'd like to do that with a lot of the lads; Chey Dunkley, Dan Burn, Michael Jacobs and Samy Morsy [have played a lot of games], but the likelihood is we will be with the core of our players as everyone knows it but we will freshen little bits and pieces of the squad up.

"A lot of the lads have had two days off purely to get rest into them and today was a light day of training because the lads know how we want to play and the emotion that will come with the game, so hopefully we can get a team on the pitch tomorrow that can play with a freshness that will see us win the game."

Whilst the headline is a Latics win will all-but secure promotion, getting the three points will be more complex than many think according to Cook, as his side provide the opposition for John Sheridan's penultimate game in charge of the Cod Army, who have appointed Joey Barton as their new head coach from 2 June.

"It has been quite a big week at Fleetwood with the announcement that Joey Barton is going in as manager in June," Cook continued.

"John Sheridan went in with the immediate job of keeping the club up and I think he has done a lot more than that, he has had an outstanding time at Fleetwood as a manager and reinforced his qualities.

"They're on a fantastic run, they've only lost once under John so it will be a difficult game for us tomorrow. They have got good players, threats within the team but it's important we focus on us."

Latics will be backed by another sell-out following and Cook says that support will be critical.

"The fans have been terrific all season; they've travelled in numbers and at Rochdale the other night they were brilliant," Cook explained.

"The players need that and tomorrow we go there with the hope that we can be promoted but with the knowledge that we might have to keep going and keep focused - we have got a very professional group of players that have worked so hard all year and tomorrow is the next part of our journey in the season."

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