Following the disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Charlton, Sunderland head to Wigan Athletic for a 6pm kick-off on Tuesday. We caught up with Ian Aspinall from Let’s Hang On, here’s what he had to say...
Wigan beat Doncaster 4-1 at the weekend... what went right?
In the previous three games Latics had failed to score but at Doncaster the team and in particular the forwards clicked. The club has suffered a devastating period of administration and the current team has had to be assembled from our Academy, short-term contracts and loan players. We’ve also suffered from long-term injuries to key players but on Saturday a new attacking trio of Viv Solomon-Otabor, Joe Dodoo and Will Keane were extremely effective. The team attacked from the off and they were clinical in the final third. Since the 31st March the club has been under new Bahraini ownership and that has considerably helped the mood around the club. The long-term future now looks positive and the new owners can start to put the structures in place to move the club forward.
Still sat inside the relegation zone, how confident are you that you’ll stay up?
It’s been an extremely difficult season because of the administration, losing our best players, manager and support staff. But despite this we’ve defied the odds and are in with a fighting chance of survival. The current players cannot be faulted for their effort, but they have sometimes lacked that extra bit of quality required to make the difference. Team spirit is good and acting manager Leam Richardson has done a tremendous job keeping us in contention. It’s going to be a nervous end to the season, but I think we will have just enough to survive.
Who are the key players to look out for from Wigan?
We don’t really have any ‘star’ players as such, but we have some good young players who have come through our Academy and are making an impact. Thelo Aasgaard a young Norwegian is impressing in midfield, but forwards Kyle Joseph and Callum Lang are currently both out injured.
Alternatively, who are the weak links?
There are no real weak links as such, but we don’t have much squad depth and have been hampered by some long-term injuries to key players.
How does Leam Richardson tend to set up regarding formation and tactics?
Like our former manager Paul Cook, Leam prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation but against Doncaster it was more like a 4-1-2-1-2. Latics prefer to build up from the back but they are prepared to go long if required. Much will depend on who is available for selection. Viv Solomon-Otabor has been struggling with an injury for the last couple of weeks, striker Callum Lang may miss out due to concussion protocol and striker Kyle Joseph looks like he’ll be missing for the rest of the season.
Another substitute appearance from Denver Hume against Charlton suggests he could start at Wigan and after missing out in the starting eleven for our two previous games, surely it’s about time we saw Connor McLaughlin resume at right back. Bailey Wright was pulled out of the u23s on Monday suggesting he could also be involved in some way.
Many fans were disappointed to see Jordan Jones only on the bench on Saturday. However, after another below par showing from Lynden Gooch, is it time for the USA international to be rested?
Now without a goal in five games, it’s fair to say Charlie Wyke is experiencing a dip in form, especially by this season’s standards! After scoring on his debut, is Ross Stewart a viable option to lead the line?
With many fans writing off automatic promotion hopes following Saturday’s defeat, Tuesday evening’s fixture is vital. With Wigan sat 21st in the table with one win in their last six games, it could prove to be the perfect game to bounce back to. Having lost 1-0 to them last time (after LJ was appointed hours before) it’s the perfect opportunity to right that wrong. I’ll predict a 2-0 Sunderland victory to get us headed in the right direction once more.