• Ivorian hits form after disappointing Africa Cup of Nations
• Pavel Pogrebnyak suspended for Reading against Aston Villa
As a sporadic member of the Ivory Coast squad, Arouna Koné has endured ample disappointment. Les Eléphants have underachieved so frequently at the Africa Cup of Nations that this year's quarter-final defeat to Nigeria, which Koné watched from the dugout, seemed painfully predictable.
But the striker's esteem has not been dampened by another fruitless international campaign and despite featuring for just 90 minutes in the recent tournament, his return to England has brought with it such a glut of goals that his Wigan team-mates are stoked with admiration.
"I didn't play as much as I wanted [in South Africa]," Koné said. "The flip side is that I have come back fresh, with a hunger to play and I think I've displayed that in the past two games. I played in Spain [for Sevilla and Levante] for teams who were fighting for trophies, so the level of confidence is different here.
"Confidence suffers if the team keeps letting goals in. But with this team there is a philosophy that we should keep playing a certain style of football whatever the situation and beating Reading will only help our self-confidence."
Koné's two goals at the Madejski and a double against Huddersfield last Sunday have glossed a fine week for Roberto Martínez's team who have sprung out of the Premier League's relegation zone at the expense of Aston Villa and are into the FA Cup quarter-finals. The 29-year-old Koné now has 10 goals.
That said, he knew practically nothing about his first against Wigan when he deflected Maynor Figueroa's goal-bound header over the line with his torso. His second, a minute later, was the antithesis; with pace, composure and a dash of pomp, he clipped the ball up and over Reading's stranded keeper, Adam Federici, perfectly controlling its flight into the net. Figueroa scored Wigan's third in the 48th minute.
The Wigan midfielder, James McArthur, hailed Kone's impact. "He's a brilliant player and four goals in two games – that's a lot of goals to a team. You want to win as many as you can as fast as you can. They [games] are running out, so there's a lot of pressure on us."
Martínez claimed this season is "the hardest fight I've been involved in because I don't think there is a bad team in the league".
Reading's defending was beyond bad at times, but they have been in encouraging form lately and this defeat must be seen in context; victory over Villa, their next visitors, would refresh their hopes of survival. But with Pavel Pogrebnyak suspended following his dismissal for a reckless challenge on Figueroa, they will be deficient up front.
Man of the match: Arouna Koné (Wigan)