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Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg

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Fan Focus: Wigan fan Barry says that ex-SAFC captain Max is performing at the peak of his powers

Ahead of tonight’s game against Wigan, we spoke to Barry Worthington from Progress With Unity Podcast about our opponents - and he’s enjoying having Max Power back this season!

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: Wigan currently sit top of League One, with your only defeat coming against Sunderland, are you surprised by how well the club have started?

Barry Worthington: I had no expectations at the start of the season, to be honest, after what we had been through I was just glad we had a club and that we were back in the grounds. I did realise we had signed some real quality though, Jordan Cousins is a Championship level player, alongside Tom Naylor in the midfield and knew we’d have a good base to build on.

It also depended on how quickly the team would gel, that has surprised me, there is a real unity within the camp and, since the opening game at your place, we have gone from strength to strength. I’ve seen new teams put together previously and its always been a stuttering start but these lads have been playing together as though they’ve had a couple of seasons with each other under their belts, that been the real surprise.

MC: There was a huge turnaround in players as Wigan invested heavily in the summer, do you think Leam Richardson is doing well to gel a new group together so fast?

BW: We ended last season with just five senior players on the books, so obviously had to recruit, we managed to keep hold of Will Keane and Tendayi Darikwa from last season by them agreeing new contracts, we offered new deals to five other players who decided to go elsewhere.

Of the players to come in Jordan Jones, Stevie Humphrys and Jason Kerr are the only ones that we have paid money for and at just half a million for the three of them that’s not bad business, the rest are free transfers plus two loan signings.

Richardson and his team worked wonders last season gelling a new team virtually every week, so whatever it is that he does I had faith that we would gel, but the speed we have, as a group, come together is a testament to the manager and the character of players that have been brought in, Leam Richardson really does know what he is doing, top, top manager.

MC: Charlie Wyke scored a brace against Accrington at the weekend - were you relieved to see him get off the mark and do you now think he can display his form from last season?

BW: Wyke has been playing really well in fairness to him and has had a hand in quite a few of our goals, his presence occupies the central defenders and allows Keane and Lang free to exploit space. Having said that it’s always good to get off the mark for a new club and it was evident with the rest of our players’ reaction to his first goal on Saturday that it was something that had perhaps been playing on his mind.

He’s been a handful in the games so far and I’m positive he will go on and bag a few for us now he’s broken his duck.

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League
James McClean scored 11 goals in 70 matches during his time with Sunderland.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

MC: Wigan resigned former Sunderland winger James McClean from Stoke. Were the fanbase happy to see him return and how has he got on so far?

BW: Delighted, he was our player of the season when he was last with us, always gives 100%, a step above League 1 and he can play several positions effectively.

He has a genuine warmth for the club and donated a few thousand to our crowdfunder when we were on the brink. So yes, the fanbase are delighted Jimmy is back.

MC: On the topic of left-wingers, were you surprised to see the club sign McClean considering they had just paid a fee to secure Jordan Jones from Rangers?

BW: McClean was available, I believe he hinted he would be open to a return. There was talk about a loan but he settled with Stoke and they allowed him to leave, how can you turn down a player of his quality?

Jones is a very good player too, both can play right or left, McClean can also play left-back, central midfield or through the middle.We have so many options and we certainly have strength in depth there.

So no, I wasn’t surprised but saw it as a statement of intent on our part.

MC: Max Power is the highest assister in League One, creating four goals so far this season. Is he back to his best?

BW: The simple answer is yes. He is the Max Power that we sold to Sunderland.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One
Max Power spent three seasons with Sunderland, scoring 14 times in 127 matches.
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

MC: Neither Sunderland or Wigan are likely to advance far to the latter stages of the Carabao Cup, nor want the fixture congestion, do you think tonight’s match will just be a case of giving fringe players minutes?

BW: There will definitely be changes, it is a great opportunity to give the squad a rotation and get minutes into the legs of those that haven’t been too involved,

It will be competitive too with us both being at the top of the league and not wanting to give any quarter, but I agree totally, the league for both clubs is the priority and changes will be made. It will hopefully be an exciting game for both sets of fans to enjoy.

MC: Who are the eleven Wigan players that you expect Richardson to select and what style of play can Lee Johnson’s men expect to encounter?

BW: We are struggling a bit in the goalkeeping department, our number two Jamie Jones has a hand injury and I don’t think we’ll want to risk Ben Amos, there’s talk of an emergency signing so we might have a surprise inclusion between the sticks.

(4-2-3-1) Emergency loan? Darikwa, Kerr, Tilt, Pearce, Bayliss, Smith, Jones, Lang, Edwards, Humphrys.

MC: Wigan have won both cup ties so far on penalties, which team do you think will be heading into the next round?

BW: It all depends on how strong a line-up both managers put out, I’ll go for us whilst we’re at home, 2-0.


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