The latest ahead of Latics' final fixture of the 2018-19 campaign against Millwall at the DW Stadium.
- Sky Bet Championship Team News: Latics v Millwall.
- Reece James set to captain Latics for the final game of the season.
- Samy Morsy unlikely to feature in squad, Charlie Jolley to be given a place on the bench.
Speaking to iFollow Latics ahead of Sunday's final fixture of the Sky Bet Championship campaign against Millwall at the DW Stadium, Paul Cook said:
"Reece has been an outstanding professional during his time at our club and someone who completely deserves the praise he gets.
"With that said, Reece will captain the team on Sunday and it's likely that we'll bring him off during the latter stages of the game so that our supporters can give him the ovation he deserves.
"Around that, we'll pick the strongest team possible as we want to finish the season with as many points as possible.
"It's a tough one for Samy, he's an exemplary captain for our club, but we don't want to risk him being suspended for that start of next season."
The gaffer added:
"Charlie Jolley will be involved on Sunday and we're aiming to get him some minutes on the pitch and that vital experience.
"Our Academy is full of good players and the Under 18s is a very talented group. It's a great time for the club in that repsect and we have to give the boys a platform to take the next step.
"I don't want to be too quick to heap praise on the young lads because it can be a burden of pressure, but it's so good to see the Academy in such a good place. The Development Squad, the Under 18s and the Under 15s have rightly been given a lot of credit, and that credit has to go to Gregor (Rioch) and his staff at Christopher Park, it's such a bright place to work."
After making their league debuts last weekend against Birmingham City, Academy duo Joe Gelhardt and Jensen Weir will be unavailable for Sunday's game as they represent England in the 2019 UEFA European U17 Championships in Ireland, the first game of which is live on UEFA's YouTube channel this evening at 7.00pm against France.
With the pair not involved on Sunday, it could open up opportunities for other members of Latics' Academy teams, with defender Adam Long already involved in the squad last weekend on the bench, whilst 41-goal striker Jolley, who netted twice in Tuesday's EFL Youth Alliance Cup triumph at Exeter City, was in the travelling squad for last weekend's trip to St. Andrew's.
Latics made seven changes for the 1-1 draw, with Christian Walton, Danny Fox, Samy Morsy, Reece James, Gavin Massey, Kal Naismith and Leon Clarke all switched out for Jamie Jones, Jonas Olsson, Darron Gibson, Cedric Kipre, Josh Windass, Joe Garner and goal scorer Nick Powell, but unfortunately Windass was forced off at half time against Birmingham through injury.
Captain Morsy is one booking away from suspension and is set to sit this one out, whilst Sunday's game will be the last opportunity for our multiple Currys PC World Player of the Month, Reece James, to feature in a Latics shirt before returning to Chelsea, with the 19-year-old confirmed as captain for the game.
Elsewhere, Callum McManaman and Michael Jacobs have both been missing with injuries, whilst Shaun MacDonald has been struggling with a calf problem.
With Neil Harris' side also safe in the knowledge of their spot in the division for 2019-20, Millwall are expected to hand opportunities to some of their younger players, with Harris hinting that in his post-Bristol City interview midweek.
Academy starlets Jesse Debrah, Billy Mitchell and George Alexander all were all named amongst the substitutes for Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat to the Robins at the Den, but none of the trio managed to feature from the bench.