Wigan Athletic boss Steve Bruce is gearing up for a barrage of high balls into the heart of the Latics penalty area on Saturday as his side come face to face with long throw specialist Rory Delap.
Delap and his Stoke City arrive at the JJB for an early afternoon kick-off and Bruce is wary of the threat that will face the Latics, he told reporters:
‘You can always throw a ball more accurately than you can kick it, and he can throw it 50 metres apparently, which is quite incredible’
‘It’s a fantastic thing to have and any team – I don’t care if you’re Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal – will find it difficult to defend against.
‘The old Wimbledon team had Vinny Jones, who used to throw the ball in to John Fashanu, and we all remember the famous FA Cup final from the 1970s between Leeds and Chelsea and Ian Hutchinson’s long throw-in.
‘I’ve even been in a team myself under Barry Fry at Birmingham when Andy Legg used to throw the ball in to big Kevin Francis, who was about 6ft 9in or something.
‘So it’s been going on for years, but I don’t think I’ve seen anybody throw a ball like this boy can throw it.
‘He’s just unbelievable. David Beckham was the master of free-kicks because he used to consistently put the ball into the area, and Delap can whizz it in with the same pace and the same trajectory, time and time again.’
Bruce knows the strengths of the Stoke side and he knows that their boss Tony Pulis always drills his teams to be strong and aggressive and that the Latics will have match them, Bruce continued:
‘Tony’s teams are always big, strong, aggressive, well-drilled, well-organised and hard to beat, that’s the way he manages, that’s what he demands off his team, and we have to accept it.
‘Fair play to them – unless you are prepared to head the ball and defend properly, you are going to come unstuck. It’s as simple as that.
‘We have got some sort of plan, and we’ll be looking to put it into effect. The long throw is awkward because you can’t play offside and you can’t stand people on the line like you can from a corner.
‘It’s a weapon that is incredible to have in your armoury, but the simple fact is you’ve got to be prepared to head it.
‘They (the Wigan players) will – and if you don’t match that you are going to come unstuck.
‘To be fair we have got a big back four. My right-back is 6ft 3ins, my left-back is 6ft 1ins, both my centre-backs are 6ft 2ins or 6ft 3ins and my goalkeeper is 6ft 5ins so we’ll have enough, I hope, to deal with it.
‘We know what’s coming but we have to be prepared to put our heads in there and accept a whack every now and again.’
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