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17 August 2018

Latics return to action on Saturday afternoon as they welcome the league's early season leaders to the DW Stadium.

  • Paul Cook looks ahead to Saturday's test against the Reds. 
  • Latics hoping for second home win of the Championship season.
  • Boss also spoke about Nathan Byrne's return and potential incomings. 

Speaking to iFollow Latics on Friday morning, Paul Cook discussed the challenge ahead of his side this weekend. 

PC on the games so far

"The league games have been outstanding games played at a fantastic tempo and have just been excellent football matches. I thought we did okay in the cup game on Tuesday night but we’re obviously giving a few goals away that everyone can see aren’t great, but that’s down to players playing in different positions and in new back fours. One of the things that disappoints me about the game is that people expect immediate results and there’s nobody capable of that. I’ve been really pleased with our start to the season, we’ve acquitted ourselves really well, albeit the cup game was a disappointment, but that means we can concentrate on the league."

PC on defensive partnerships

"People want to pick up on negatives all the time now and that’s the way football is. We’ve got two very young full backs who have never played for us before and we’ve got a centre back who has only recently come into the building, and naturally we’re meant to keep clean sheets straight away in one of the hardest leagues in the world. My style is to keep backing my players and staying positive."

PC on individual performances

"We like to think we know our players but what you can’t do in the early stages of the season is keep everyone happy, only time will prove that. The squad is so important to the game at the moment and we’ve got a healthy squad, competition for our bench on Saturday is as good as it’s ever been."

PC on Nathan Byrne and Dan Burn

"If you look at our team last season we had Nathan Byrne as our player of the season and Dan Burn just a millimetre behind him, and they’re two lads we’ve lost for the first two games and that’s what football can do. It gives other lads in the squad an opportunity to come in, but it’s great for us that Nathan is back in the squad tomorrow and he’s a massive figure in our dressing room. He’s a big way in how we play the game and it’s great to have him back."

PC on Reece James

"With all due respect to Reece he’s a good footballer, so when you sign players from the likes of Chelsea and he’s played internationally, you expect them to be good and he fills all that criteria. Our team is getting healthier and stronger and that’s what every manager should have."

PC on versatility in the squad

"My job as a manager is trying to keep the dressing room as vibrant as possible and most lads in the modern day game want to play football. When Saturday comes it’s the day you earn your money if you like so not being selected in the squad can be a huge disappointment, but over a season that can be balanced out."

PC on Nottingham Forest

"I think too many managers make too much of what other clubs are spending. In my world it’s a way of eating pressure on you in the way that Forest are expected to beat you, but we’ll speak about them as they are, which is a very good team with very good players and an outstanding manager who has been promoted out of the division before. They play a really good brand of football but we’re preparing ourselves to give Forest a difficult afternoon, and that’s what I want to concentrate on as a manager."

PC on Forest’s players

"I was lucky enough to be at their game against West Brom and I found myself clapping Forest during the game, they were that good. Sometimes when you come off the pitch and you haven’t won a game like that I’m sure the manager’s thinking to himself what do they have to do because they were absolutely fantastic on the night. They’ve obviously taken that into the Reading and Bury games and they’re a really strong club. The atmosphere at the City Ground that night was as good as an atmosphere I’ve felt at a football ground for a long time, so they’re obviously going in a good direction. It’s about us tomorrow though and we’re looking forward to being backed by a big support. The fans have hopefully seen during the first two league games what we can do."

PC on his approach

"We’ve got the utmost respect to every team we play but we’re not particularly interested in what other clubs spend on players etc because it can be a cop out for managers to speak about how well they’re doing because their budget is very low. For me it’s got nothing to do with that and it’s all about our 11 players trying to win a football game."

PC on potential incomings

"We’re just disappointed now that we’ve fallen on six loan deals. The Lee Evans transfer was very disappointing in how it was conducted, it should never have been a loan and should have been a simple transfer. Dan Burn has now come back to us on loan too, so we’ve now possibly got two loans in the building that we didn’t envisage having. The criteria for the team sheet means only five loan lads can be involved, so while we would like to bring more players in, on the other hand we’re going to have to start leaving lads out who you don’t want to."

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