The international break probably came at a good time for Gary Caldwell, as he seeks a reset from the recent poor league form that has seen City slump from the top of the league to 12th and now looking down rather than up. The break will also have given his injury-ravaged squad a chance to rest and recuperate.
The last few days have seen a number of fringe players depart on loan, perhaps signalling that some of Caldwell’s injured players are due to return – the departure of Sonny Cox to Yeovil in particular giving hope that Admiral Muskwe may finally be in a position to feature, while Dion Rankine and Ilmari Niskanen may also be edging closer to a return as City return to action against a side they will be facing again in the FA Cup in a couple of weeks, and one that is very close to Gary Caldwell’s heart, having both played for and managed them previously.
Like Reading, Wigan’s relegation to the third tier last season owed as much to off-field events as results on it. Indeed, the Latics were hamstrung at the start of this campaign due to a points deduction that they have done well to overcome early on with a strong start but recent results have shown a downturn. They are at least off the bottom but even without the deduction they would currently lie in 20th place. A number of their key players left in the summer, such as Will Keane, James McClean and Jack Whatmough, but Sean Moloney has managed to hold on to several of his stars, with much depending on the goalscoring form of Charlie Wyke – who has six goals to his name so far. Callum Lang, on the other hand, has yet to get off the mark in the league.
Since Wigan were being propped up by Dave Whelan’s millions, there hasn’t been a meeting between the sides since Wigan’s 96/97 promotion from the bottom tier when they exotically had their Spanish contingent including Roberto Martinez. The corresponding fixture finished 1-0, Gavin Johnson scoring the winner, while the return was 2-0 at Wigan’s former home of Springfield Park – Lancashire and Jones with the goals. That double extended Wigan’s league head to head lead over City to 10-3, with three further matches finishing level.
The match officials for the game will be:-
Referee: Ben Atkinson
Assistant Referees: Andrew Hickman and Stephen Finch
Fourth Official: Simon Shaw
Ben Atkinson is a newly promoted referee to the EFL. In 9 games this season Ben has shown 43 yellow cards and 4 red cards. This will be his first time refereeing an Exeter or a Wigan game.
Gary Caldwell’s preview
Pierce Sweeney on the Wigan game