After last Saturday’s draw against Swindon, coach Peter Wild was quick to acknowledge the impact that his three substitutions had on the game. With the 11 on the pitch being unable to change the pace of the game, the introduction of Baxter, Sylla and Afolayan had the desired effect and Latics salvaged a point after going behind in the second half.
For Wild, fielding the same side which had won three in a row was an obvious decision. Even the return of Jose Baxter after suspension didn’t encourage him to change the winning line up. However, with two Easter games within three days approaching, it may well be advisable for Wild to introduce both Sylla and Afolayan into the starting line up.
The 21 year old centre forward on loan from West Ham should be relishing life at League Two level but he has had limited opportunities to show what he is capable of. With only 140 minutes of action in four games he has perhaps not been used to his full advantage.
Playing alongside top scorer Callum Lang instead of veteran Chris O’Grady might well be a tactic that will work against 16th place Cheltenham who have an excellent record in their last 8 home games.
Sylla has also had few opportunities with only four starts but he had an immediate effect on the pitch against Swindon. A strong, direct player he could possibly edge out Maouche who hasn’t been performing as well as he is able. The Latics midfield seems to have been made up of several French players this season with varying degrees of success but with the slim possibility that we might make the playoffs still possible, Wild will not get away with fielding the same players for every game despite our four match unbeaten run.
Realistically, we only need to lose one of our remaining five games to ensure that we can’t reach the top five and fielding squad players might appear to be risky, but given the few opportunities to show their worth, Sylla and Afolayan might well look upon their inclusion to show how much they have to offer.