It looks as though it could be a difficult return to competitive action for Wigan Athletic on Saturday, as they host recently relegated Cardiff City at the DW Stadium in the opening game of the Championship season.
Following their promotion from League One at the first time of asking in the 17/18, the Latics took some time to readjust to life back in the Championship, before eventually finishing a respectable 18th come the end of the season.
Survival could well be the target for Paul Cook’s side again this season, and a strong start could be important to them having a chance of doing that, considering the drop in form they endured during the midway point of last season.
Here, we’ve taken a look at the lineup we expect Cook to select with a view to doing that against Cardiff on Saturday afternoon.
Having used a 4-2-3-1 formation on plenty of occasions under Cook, we imagine that will be the formation the Latics boss goes with on Saturday.
In goal, David Marshall – who joined the club following the expiry of his contract at Hull – looks likely to feature against his former club.
In defence, we imagine the ever-reliable Nathan Byrne will start at right-back, with Chelsea loanee Dujon Sterling having only joined the club earlier this week. Left-back meanwhile should be a role taken on by Antonee Robinson, after the American made his loan move from Everton permanent in the summer.
Having formed a reliable partnership throughout much of last season, we expect Cedric Kipre and Chey Dunkley will link up again in the centre of the Latics’ defence on Saturday.
In midfield, an injury to club captain Samy Morsy means that we’ve gone for a partnership of the experienced Lee Evans and new signing Lewis Macleod, who gets the nod over fellow recent arrival Joe Williams due to the fact he has had a decent amount of pre-season with the Latics to get up to fitness and familiarise himself with the club’s formations and style of play.
Perhaps the most exciting inclusion will be on the right of attacking midfield, where Jamal Lowe could be set for his Latics debut following his move from Portsmouth. Much will be expected of the 24-year-old, who will be looked upon to provide the attacking impetus and creativity previously offered by the now-departed Nick Powell.
Alongside Lowe we’ve gone for former Cardiff man Anthony Pilkington and Josh Windass to add as much of an attacking threat as possible as Wigan look to trouble the Bluebirds defence.
With Kieffer Moore’s anticipated arrival from Barnsley yet to be confirmed, it looks as though Joe Garner could get one final chance to stake a claim for a place at the top of Wigan’s attack on Saturday.