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Wigan Athletic v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Focus: Wigan fan Barry believes that ex-Sunderland striker Nathan Broadhead is improving!

Ahead of the return of many familiar faces to the Stadium of Light, Matty spoke to Barry Worthington from the Progress With Unity Podcast to find out how the ex-Sunderland lads are getting on!

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: First and foremost, it was excellent to see Charlie Wyke score his first goal since collapsing in training, what is the latest update on the 29-year-old’s progress?

Barry Worthington: Charlie is firing on all systems now and has started the last 2 games, in fact started 3 of the last 4.

He is certainly putting the effort in, speaking to Sunderland fans I am constantly told that “Wyke is just a goal scorer and brings nothing else”, that couldn’t be further from the truth, he has been an excellent contributor to the team, hold up play, bringing others into the game, running the channels, we’ve certainly got a different player than what we were told we were getting.

He’s come back this season with a great appetite for the game, plays with a smile and is really enjoying what he must consider a second chance.

MC: Wigan currently sit 9th in the table after a steady start to the season, how would you summarise your start to the campaign?

BW: Satisfactory, our away form has been outstanding once again but our home form not so, we have struggled to dominate on home turf, I do feel we are suited to playing on the road, but we need to get to grips with that, the midweek win over Blackburn will hopefully be the start of a run of form at the DW, we did control the game and looked dangerous whilst containing the Blackburn threat of Brereton Diaz.

Before the season kicked off I was hoping to stay up, I thought we’d finish in lower mid-table, 18th-14th and although I would take 18th, I think we might be a little better than that, so quite happy with the start.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Charlie Wake scored 31 goals during his last season for Sunderland, winning the EFL Trophy at Wembley.
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

MC: After doing a brilliant job to keep Wigan in League One, Leam Richardson led to the become champions last season, what do you think is a realistic expectation from fans this season?

BW: Having had turmoil over the past ten seasons, relegations, promotions and administration we are looking for a season of mid-table mediocrity, just to help the blood pressure, but of course realistically fans won’t settle for that, they want to see us challenging.

We lost two games on the bounce last week and unbelievably that saw some questioning should we get rid of the boss!

We’ve come into this new campaign with virtually the same squad as last season, just a few additions, the new owners have stated that they aren’t going to throw money at it, so we need to be realistic, I have complete faith in Leam Richardson, a great coach, fantastic leader and he is, despite what gets said at times, very astute tactically.

We need to back the boss from the stands, we need to realise there will be plenty downs as well as ups this season, but hopefully, we can build a platform for next season by finishing comfortably in mid-table.

MC: After being expected to join Sunderland for most of the transfer window, Nathan Broadhead opted to join Wigan, with Alex Neil hinting that he did not want to compete for a place, how has he faired so far with The Latics?

BW: He’s done well, he’s competed for a place here with us, so I’m not too sure how true that statement was, he tended to come on as a late sub for Callum Lang, but Lang has been sidelined recently with an ankle injury so Broadhead has got the nod.

He’s scored two goals, both match winners, 1:0 v Birmingham away and 1:0 v Blackburn on Tuesday.

Derby County v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Ashley Fletcher scored two goals in 16 matches for Sunderland during a loan spell.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

MC: Another ex-Sunderland striker who joined Wigan this summer was Ashley Fletcher, who has only played 14 minutes so far, is he someone that you would like to see feature more?

BW: I recall Fletcher from his time at Middlesbrough and he was an exciting forward, he’s had a torrid time at Watford and we’ve brought him in on loan, but apparently he’s had hardly any preseason so struggling for fitness, he’s just had the odd cameo but I’m hoping that when he is fully fit he can bring some pace and quality to our forward line.

MC: The man who appears to have coordinated the ex-Sunderland group at Wigan is Max Power. How is the 29-year-old finding Championship football once again?

BW: One thing with Max is he wears his heart on his sleeve, never shirks and always gives his all, he was the same as a 21-year-old with us and he is the same again on his return. He loves his football but you see the hurt in his face when it doesn’t go our way.

I think so far this season, Max has been very good, he’s played every minute of every game, he is a driving force on the pitch and really gets the players going, he has produced some real quality deliveries and looks as good on the ball as ever.

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy - Final 2021 - Wembley Stadium
Max Power captained Sunderland during our 1-0 EFL Trophy final win at Wembley and made 137 appearances for the club during a three-year spell.
Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

MC: Looking at your results, Wigan are unbeaten on the road, but have only won once at home – what do you think are the factors behind that?

BW: The million dollar question, possibly because we are a team that likes to contain then hit, it works a treat away but home games, the emphasis is on the home side to be more adventurous and that really isn’t in our game plan.

Tuesday against Blackburn was the best we’ve been at home this season, we had more attacking intent in our play, let’s hope it wasn’t a one off.

MC: Which Wigan players are currently on form who you think can cause Sunderland problems at both ends of the pitch?

BW: Jack Whatmough, pure class and his partner in crime at the back, Curtis Tilt, both very different types of players but both great defenders and they complement each other very well. Tilt is physical and defends with his life, Whatmough is very much a reader of the game and great at making those little interceptions.

Nathan Broadhead will be starting and he is improving with the more game time he gets, Will Keane, our top scorer with five is always a threat, he has quick feet and a great footballing brain.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final
Nathan Broadhead scored 13 goals in 27 matches for Sunderland last season, averaging a goal every 123 minutes.
Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

MC: How do you expect Richardson to approach the match tactically and which eleven players do you think he will select?

BW: Not sure if he will swap Magennis for Wyke but I’ll go with Charlie.

We played 3-2-2-2-1 on Tuesday and it worked well so I’d assume he stick with that:

Amos in goal, Kerr, Whatmough, Tilt back three, Power and Naylor defensive midfield, wingbacks Darikwa and McClean, Keane and Broadhead behind Wyke up front.

MC: Sunderland beat Wigan on all three occasions last season, what is your prediction for the score this time around?

BW: Past results are meaningless - we did the double over you the previous season whilst we were in admin and playing the kids. I think it will be a very close game.

We are good on the road, I’d take the draw if offered now, but I’ll stick my neck out and go 0:2 Latics win with the second being a late breakaway goal with you pressing for an equaliser.


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