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Interviews

McCann Sings Wilks’ Praises

5 March 2021

With seven goals in his last five games, Mallik Wilks is a man at the top of his game.

The 22-year-old is the Tigers’ leading marksman with 19 goals in all competitions, 16 of them in the league, placing him joint-third in the division’s scoring charts.

It’s little wonder his manager has been singing his praises.

“Mallik’s in good form and training well,” said Grant McCann. “He’s doing everything he possibly can to get himself in the best place for games.

“Although he’s going to be highlighted for the goals he’s scored in the last five games, his form has been good all season.

“He’s in a rich vein of form at the minute and he looks even more dangerous.

“Hopefully Mallik can carry that form on for the 13 games we’ve got left and he can keep himself in and around the top end of the goalscorers in the division.

“He’s a big player for us and has been since he came to the football club. He’s hungry for more goals. That’s what he’s about. He just wants to score goals.”

His latest strike, in a 2-0 win over Rochdale, saw him cut infield from the left, evading several challenges, before arrowing a left-footed shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

“I saw him do that a lot at Doncaster,” McCann revealed. “A lot of his goals were come in, shift, shoot, low back lift.

“He’s started to feel comfortable. He’s starting to shoot more. He went through a little spell in the middle of the season when he was coming in and taking another touch, another touch and losing it. He realises he hasn’t got that time.

“It was a good strike and hopefully there are many more to come before the season’s out.”

As well as taking fewer touches, Wilks is becoming more confident on his right foot – as evidenced with the second of his hat-tricks goals at Wigan.

“He’s getting better on his right side,” said McCann. “He’s working very hard on that.

“Whether he can go left or go right, he’s starting to take people outside and inside now.

“He’ll give defenders a problem when he gets really good at that and confident on his right foot, which he’s showing.

“You saw the goal at Wigan when he pulled it onto his right foot and scored. He’s getting more confident on that.”

It is under McCann’s tutelage that Wilks has played his best football, netting 16 times for Doncaster in 2018/19 and now 24 goals in 56 matches for the Tigers.

And the boss says the key is knowing what makes him tick.

“I’ve seen development in Mallik over the last two or three years, from when he came into Doncaster and we took him from Leeds,” McCann commented.

“Grimsby didn’t want him – they sent him back to Leeds. Accrington didn’t want him – they sent him back to Leeds.

“He came to Doncaster a little bit raw and we worked with him there for the season and he ended up with 16 goals.

“He got the move to Barnsley, started well but I don’t know what happened there. We took him to Hull and he started scoring goals for us.

“Since he’s been with myself and Cliff (Byrne, Assistant Head Coach), and now Barry (Richardson, Goalkeeping Coach) and Tony (Pennock, First Team Coach), he is improving.

“It’s knowing what boxes to tick with Mallik and how to get the best out of him. That’s all down to man-management.”


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