Wigan Athletic boss opens up on Will Grigg's future after Sunderland launch bid

Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook insists that Will Grigg is a major part of his plans.

Friday, 11th January 2019, 11:50 am
Updated Friday, 11th January 2019, 11:54 am
Will Grigg is a January target for Sunderland

Sunderland have this week launched an ambitious bid for the 27-year-old, who has won promotion from the third tier on four separate occasions.

However, his place in the Wigan side has been far from secure this season, leading the Black Cats to open talks on a possible January buy.

He currently has four goals in 18 appearances.

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Cook says Grigg will be back in the picture when his key creative players are fit again.

On Thursday he completed a deal for versatile Cardiff City forward Anthony Pilkington.

"What you have to be careful of with speculation, there is always two, three, even four sides to a story," Cook told Wigan Today."As far as I'm concerned, as manager of Wigan Athletic...Will Grigg is, not our main striker, because that would be disrespectful to the others.

"But he is very much a focal point of what we're trying to do, within the system of how we want to play.

"The greatest success I've achieved as a manager here has been with a forward line of [Nick] Powell, [Michael] Jacobs, [Gavin] Massey and Grigg.

"We haven't had those players on the pitch together since [the win at] Stoke [in August].

"I am trying to strengthen this team, not weaken it. That is about as categoric as I can be.

"Within that, there are always other sides to stories, and a million different angles.

"But I can only reiterate my best days at this club have been with those four players up front.

"Those four players compliment each other very well, they bring an attacking edge to the team.

"My belief is one day soon we'll see those four players back together on a pitch for Wigan Athletic."

Grigg has had to compete with the likes of James Vaughan and Joe Garner for a starting role but Cook says the Northern Irishman will always be in his best side, depending on the availability of other players.

"I would like to think that I speak to my players a lot - and me and Will have had conversations," he said.

"It's hard in football, because for a manager to say 'nobody is for sale' would just be wrong.

"But are we looking to sell players? Not a chance. Why would we?

"Will Grigg is one of the mainstays of what has brought me success at Wigan Athletic.

"You only need go back to the Manchester City game, and the only player to ever score a goal without a single team-mate in the same half as himself!

"I can't stop speculation, no-one can. I can't stop other clubs bidding for our players.

"But all I can is go on and on about partnerships...and for me, the Grigg and Powell partnership has been just fantastic.

"The front four partnership of Powell, Grigg, Jacobs, Massey is a proper front four.

"Will knows what I am waiting for, to get Will back in the team - the other three to be fit and available.

"We have had this situation behind the scenes, and he knows my thoughts.

"I appreciate some fans will see the team sheet and Will's not playing, and wonder what's going on.

"But while we've had to stutter through a difficult period, it's been more of a mix and match.

"Most weeks it's been putting your hands up to the ceiling to stop it leaking.

"Stan Ternent gave me a great piece of advice when I first started off in management," Cook added.

"He told me if I was ever struggling, always look back to your best games, and pick the same team.

"When I shut my eyes, Will Grigg's been in every single one of those sides.

"I'm not suddenly going to shut my eyes now and dismiss him.

"And I have had this discussion with Will Grigg.

"Does that mean in the future Will Grigg won't ever move?

"I can't say that. Nobody knows. Things can change.

"But we're in a position where we've been weak for a couple for months, and we only want to get stronger."

Reports on Thursday night suggested that Sunderland's opening offer for Grigg had not been knocked back, but that is highly unlikely to deter them in their pursuit.

They will almost certainly return with another offer after Jack Ross admitted he wants an 'out-and-out' striker to arrive before the end of the month.

They will have a number of options but Grigg's League One pedigree is just about unrivaled.