Meet Wigan: A life-saving boss, long unbeaten run and an in-form old boy

Charlton Athletic's Adam Matthews (left) and Wigan Athletic's Will Keane battle for the ball during

Former Ipswich Town striker Will Keane, right, has been in great form for Wigan Athletic - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town travel to Wigan Athletic for an important fixture in League One today (3pm). Mark Heath takes a look at the Latics...

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One look at the table will tell you how Wigan have been faring this season, and what a tough task awaits Town today.

The Latics are joint top, sitting behind Rotherham on goal difference, but with a game in hand on the Millers - and two on Town.

Leam Richardson, Paul Cook's long-time assistant, was only made full-time boss at the DW Stadium in April, but he kept a struggling Wigan side up last season and now, after a total summer rebuild, has them pushing for the Championship.

They're riding a ten game unbeaten run, having last lost on October 26 at home to Lincoln.

Indeed, they've only lost four league games all season, and have one of the stingiest defences in the league - second only to Rotherham - having conceded just 17 goals.

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They score goals too - the Latics boast four players with five or more strikes this season - and will be a daunting prospect for a Town team who appear to be in disarray.

Wigan Athletic manager Leam Richardson on the touchline during the Emirates FA Cup first round repla

Wigan boss Leam Richardson has led the Latics to the top of League One - Credit: PA

The gaffer

This game was meant to be a classic clash between the master - Paul Cook - and the apprentice, Richardson.

The duo have worked together at Accrington, Chesterfield, Portsmouth and Wigan, enjoying great success.

It would have been fascinating to see them face off as foes, but Cook's sacking has deprived us of that.

Of Cook's demise, Richardson said:  "I'm surprised, absolutely devastated and gutted for him individually because nobody needs to tell Ipswich fans or anyone else in football the calibre of management on his CV.

"For me he’s a Premier League/Championship manager so it’s surprising.

"People look to get out of the division (League One) and in that situation they probably look for Paul Cook and the likes of him.

"He’ll be fine – he’s very experienced, very robust, very thorough and very thoughtful. I’m sure he’ll already be looking for his next challenge, knowing him, and I wish him well.”

One wonders if Richardson, who uses Cook's beloved 4-2-3-1 system, will be extra motivated to hand Town a lesson today on behalf of his long-time colleague and friend.

Wigan Athletic's Charlie Wyke (centre) battles for the ball with Charlton Athletic's Ryan Inniss (ri

Wigan Athletic's Charlie Wyke (centre) battles for the ball with Charlton Athletic's Ryan Inniss (right) and Adam Matthews during the Sky Bet League One match at The Valley, London. Picture date: Saturday August 21, 2021. - Credit: PA


As well as turning Wigan's fortunes around, Richardson performed an even-more important role last month - that of a literal life-saver.

He sprang into action when striker Charlie Wyke suffered a heart attack during training on November 22, just three weeks after getting CPR training at the club.

He said seeing Wyke collapse was a 'surreal, out of body experience.'

"Everything is like slow motion isn't it?" he added. "You put into practice what you have been told and just hope you are doing the right thing. You are hoping you have the tools and the mindset to deal with the situation."

Club doctor Jonathan Tobin took over and Wyke's life was saved. He has since been discharged from hospital, with a defibrillator fitted. It's not known if he'll be able to play again.

But he said: "I am told it was only the quick response of the gaffer and then the continuation from the doc that saved my life.

"I will be forever grateful that due to their actions - and those of my team-mates and other staff - I am here to talk to about the experience."

Gwion Edwards has joined Wigan Athletic after leaving Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town will face Wigan Athletic - and former player Gwion Edwards - on Easter Monday. Photo: Wigan AFC - Credit: WAFC

Old faces

Wigan have a pair of old Town faces on their books today, who have had differing fortunes at the DW.

Winger Gwion Edwards has been in and out of the Wigan side since arriving from Town in the summer, scoring once in 20 games so far.

In a story familiar to those who watched him at Town, a lack of end product and head down syndrome are the major flaws attributed to his game by Wigan fans. He's unlikely to start today.

But for Will Keane, it's a different story.

The long-haired forward, who never really got going at Town, has been a vital part of the Wigan side this season, often playing as the 10 in Richardson's 4-2-3-1 and, crucially, staying fit.

He's scored nine goals and laid on five assists, with much of the good play which Wigan create coming through him. Indeed, he's earned a Republic of Ireland call-up as a result.

A goal or an assist - or both - against Town today feels almost certain, doesn't it?

Don't forget too, that this game is a return to Wigan for Sam Morsy and Lee Evans.

One to watch

While Keane is scoring, he's not actually Wigan's top gun.

That title belongs to forward Callum Lang, who's bagged ten goals and four assists in 23 games.

He's on a hot streak too - scoring six goals in his last seven games.