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8 February 2019

Boss says his side are in for a physical test at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

  • WATCH: Paul Cook looks ahead to Wigan Athletic’s Sky Bet Championship trip to Rotherham United
  • Boss acknowledges magnitude of Rotherham clash and says his side have to defend well to get result at the AESSEAL New York Stadium
  • Paul Cook: “Rotherham’s home form is very strong, they score a lot of goals in the second half of games and their lads will never lie down. As a club, I can’t pay Rotherham any more respect than we are going to do.”

Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook says the Latics squad is feeling positive as a number of boosts on the injury front were reported this week.

Cook confirmed Antonee Robinson, Gavin Massey and Nick Powell are all back training, meaning only captain Samy Morsy (suspended) can be officially ruled out. Cook did also confirm he will opt for Chey Dunkley ahead of Cedric Kipre on Saturday, with Kipre picking up a minor knock earlier in the week, albeit he will still travel to the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Speaking to iFollow Latics in his pre-match press conference, Cook said:

“We were delighted with the win [against QPR] and as the season pans out our home form is looking very strong, which is fantastic.

“Our away form, though, is obviously not the same, and we would have liked more than the 32 points we have, if we had a few more we would probably be a bit more relaxed in relation to where we are in the table.

“We can feel the positivity of the players coming back from injury; Nick Powell is training today, [Antonee] Robinson and [Gavin] Massey are back in the squad and all of a sudden it looks a different squad of players because the numbers have changed dramatically within a week.

“That’s great credit to everyone; the recruitment guys, the chairman and the board for bringing players in and the medical guys for getting the lads back fit.”

Josh Windass has scored in Latics’ last two matches and looked to link up impressively with Leon Clarke at the DW Stadium in Saturday’s win over QPR and Cook believes Windass will go from strength to strength in a Latics shirt.

“Josh Windass has been playing in that number 10 position which Nick Powell plays in, it is probably Callum McManaman’s best position too but the job of a number 10 can be debated on the pitch by everyone,” Cook said.

“For me, it is to be involved in forward play, create chances and score goals. If you are going to play a as a deep-lying number 10, then you won’t do those things.

“Josh is now being seen in a light, though, where people can see his qualities; he breaks lines really well and has scored some really good goals breaking from midfield and he can finish.”

Paul Warne’s Millers will face Latics for the third time this season on Saturday after they beat us in the Carabao Cup in August before losing 1-0 at the DW Stadium in September in the first league fixture.

After a narrow win on that afternoon, Cook knows his side will have to be right at it, especially in Rotherham where the Millers are strong.

“First and foremost, to go to Rotherham and win a game of football, you are going to have to defend, play well and earn the right,” Cook explained.

“In my opinion, they are having an outstanding season because, at the start of the season when everybody lays their cards on the table, unfortunately for Rotherham they are dealt the worst hand and that can be football.

“Does that affect Paul and his players? Not a chance. The work ethic, commitment and quality at times, they give everything for their club.

“Rotherham’s home form is very strong, they score a lot of goals in the second half of games and their lads will never lie down.

“As a club, I can’t pay Rotherham anymore respect than we are going to do.”

Rotherham United A

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