Both sides have not won in their last five games in all competitions after beginning the campaign with a victory. Coach Chris Stern told the Chronicle: “It is a big game. Wigan are on a negative run and we haven’t won for four league games. It’s very important, going into the international break. We want to win and then have a rest and look ahead to Leeds (the next home game on September 15).”
Striker Moore scored 23 goals in 55 games in 18 months at Oakwell, including 19 last season as they gained promotion from League One. He moved to Wigan for £4million in the last week of the Championship transfer window and played three games before picking up an injury last week. He could return tomorrow.
Stern told the Chronicle: “We know his qualities, he scored many goals for us and was a big part in our promotion. But he moved on, which is the way football works and the circumstances we are in.”
Wigan won their first game of the season 3-2 at home to Cardiff City but, after Moore joined, they lost five in a row with only one goal scored. They are third-bottom with three points from five games, one fewer than fourth-bottom Barnsley who lost 3-1 at home to Luton Town on Saturday which ended a 29-game unbeaten home run.
Latics manager Paul Cook admitted after the 3-1 loss at QPR on Saturday that he expected to lose his job if results did not improve quickly. Stern said: “We expect a very strong game from Wigan at home. We want to take the positives from our second half against Luton. Wigan are very solid at the back and don’t commit too many players forward which might make things difficult for us.”
The Reds have lost both their away games this season, going down 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City. They are the only side in the Championship yet to collect a point or score a goal away from home this season. Stern said: “We need to not concede easy goals. In Sheffield we conceded very early then Birmingham was a good away game from us but again we conceded two goals. We saw in Birmingham that, if you keep the game open, the chances to win get bigger. That is our focus for Wigan, to keep the game open as long as possible and defend our goal and attack their goal and get a win, it doesn’t matter if it comes early or late.”
Barnsley had sold 1,300 tickets for the game yesterday. Stern said: “It’s very important. You can understand the fans’ reaction to the first half against Luton but you could feel support in the second half which gave the players a boost.”
Stern says the young squad has responded well to Saturday’s game, in which they conceded three times in the first 31 minutes. He said: “We addressed the bad performance this week. It has been high-intensity in training. It’s up to us to see which players we trust and have confidence in to play at the weekend. The players have to be confident. That wins you games as well as quality. They have showed good attitude and character in training. Our way is to go for it and try to get the three points.”
As well as Moore, the Latics have two former Barnsley loanee central midfielders in Joe Williams and Sam Morsy. Egypt international Morsy played 14 games on loan to the Reds from Wigan in late 2016.
Williams played 34 Championship matches for the Reds in the 2017/18 relegation season on loan from Everton who turned down an alleged £1million bid from the Oakwell club. He was relegated again with Bolton Wanderers last season then moved on a permanent deal to Wigan, for whom he was sent off on his full debut against Leeds United earlier this month.
Wigan manager Cook’s only previous games against Barnsley saw him take four points off them as Chesterfield manager in the 2014/15 season. This will be the 15th meeting of Barnsley and Wigan, with half of them in the last six years but none since 2017. Barnsley’s only win in their five league games in Wigan was on the final day of the 2015/16 season when a 4-1 victory put the Reds in the League One play-offs.