James Heneghan's Wigan Athletic v Northampton Town preview
Fixture: Wigan Athletic v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Tuesday, September 19, 7.45pm kick-off
Venue: DW Stadium
Forecast: 14C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Wigan: Nick Powell (fatigue), Shaun MacDonald (broken leg), Craig Morgan (hip). Cobblers: Matt Crooks (suspended), John-Joe O’Toole (groin), Sam Foley (knee), Sam Hoskins (knee), Aaron Phillips (thigh), Shaun McWilliams (foot)
Betting: Wigan 8/15, draw 3/1, Northampton 5/1
Form guide: Latics WWLDDL, Cobblers DWWLLL
Possible line-ups: Wigan (4-3-3): Jones; Byrne, Bruce, Burn, James; Evans, Jacobs, Morsy; Massey, Powell, Grigg. Northampton (4-4-2): Ingram; Moloney, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan; Powell, Grimes, Kasim, Smith; Long, Revell.
Man in the middle: Anthony Backhouse
Last time out: Wigan 3 (Powell, Grigg, Massey) Bristol Rovers 0; Southend 2 Northampton 2 (Barnett, Crooks)
Most recent meeting: Friday, April 4, 2003 – Northampton 0 Wigan 2 (Ellington, Liddell)
Record v Wigan: P33 W5 D12 L16
Opposition view: “We’re preparing the best we can and doing what we believe is right by giving our opponents maximum respect, which is what Northampton deserve,” Latics boss Paul Cook told the club website on Monday. “They’ve got a very strong team and in Jimmy they’ve got a manager who has great experience of promotions and managing in the Championship, so we know we’ve got our hands full with them.”
Cobblers connection: There will be a number of familiar faces on show when these two meet on Tuesday evening. While Alex Revell and Leon Barnett return to an old stomping ground, one where they made over 100 collective appearances, Michael Jacobs and Ivan Toney both face the club they made their professional debuts at.
Now into his fifth different loan spell since leaving Sixfields, Toney’s career has not taken off in the way he might have hoped when he switched Northampton for Newcastle in 2015. The talented 21-year-old, who was courted by several clubs while at the Cobblers, has played a grand total of 45 minutes over four substitute appearances in his two years at Newcastle, but he’s spent most of his time away from St James Park. Indeed, his most successful loan spell came at Shrewsbury where he scored seven times, including twice against the Cobblers, in 25 appearances last season. He’s also started well at Wigan, for whom he signed in the summer, having netted two goals in seven games so far this term.
James Heneghan’s preview: Having steered the Cobblers ship out of choppy waters with seven points from a possible nine, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s rejuvenated team now face their stiffest test yet when they visit pre-season title favourites Wigan Athletic in Tuesday’s rearranged fixture – though this could be viewed as something of a free hit.
Originally scheduled for the first weekend of September, this fixture succumbed to international call-ups and that presented Town chairman Kelvin Thomas with an ideal opportunity to remove Justin Edinburgh from his post and bring in Hasselbaink.
And the Dutchman has had the desired impact in his first three games, so much so that Town fans now make the trip to the north west this evening with some hope and optimism of coming away with a result – and that in itself represents an achievement given how daunting a prospect this game would have appeared had it taken place on its planned date.
Saturday’s draw with Southend United may have halted Hasselbaink’s winning start to life as Northampton manager but it was still a respectable point away at a team who will be eyeing a top six berth, and if the new boss can inspire his players to another positive outcome at the DW Stadium on Tuesday, it will be confirmation that he’s onto a good thing at Sixfields.
Quickly instilled as favourites for both promotion and the title following relegation from the Championship last term, Wigan have made excellent early progress under new manager Paul Cook and victory over Northampton on Tuesday would take them as high as second and to within three points of top spot.
Successive 3-0 wins over Bristol Rovers and Charlton Athletic also show they are a team in good form and one that has overcome a mini-wobble last month.
Even accounting for Northampton’s recent turnaround, tonight’s contest will be seen as a home banker for many onlookers and that’s understandable given the Cobblers have won just once on the road in 2017.
They would have doubled that tally had they not squandered a two-goal lead at Southend on Saturday but their failure to do so was a throwback to much of last season when their away form left much to be desired.
And it was in these type of fixtures in particular – away at a team fancied to challenge for promotion – where they struggled most of all.
With four midfielders either injured or suspended, Hasselbaink is not helped by a number of absentees for this fixture. With Matt Crooks not available due to his needless red card on Saturday, he only has two central midfielders to pick from in Matt Grimes and Yaser Kasim.
The possible return of George Smith is a boost and could mean Hasselbaink opts for a straightforward 4-4-2. The goalkeeper and defence picks itself, although Aaron Pierre’s omission on Saturday was contentious, with Daniel Powell and Smith creating the width for a front two.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 2 Northampton Town 1