Carson has a fight to regain the No.1 shirt

Scott Carson

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OWEN Coyle has poured praise on young goalkeeper Lee Nicholls – as No.1 Scott Carson inches nearer to a return to fitness.

The Latics boss is on the brink of a real selection dilemma but insists it’s one he is delighted to have.

The 21-year old Nicholls has been in great form since replacing Carson in goal last month.

The former England keeper hobbled off in the warm up against Charlton, giving Nicholls the chance to make his league debut for the Latics after spending the last few years in the club’s development system and on loan at Northampton.

It was a perfect start for Nicholls keeping back-to-back clean sheets. In total, he has let in just three goals in six games.

During that time, he’s made a string of impressive saves and was the man of the match during the defeat against Brighton on Saturday.

Former England goalkeeper Carson is now nearing a return from injury and could find it difficult to get back into the Latics starting XI.

Coyle said last week that the Brighton game was just too soon for the former Liverpool and West Brom stopper but he was hoping to have him available for selection within the next fortnight.

Elsewhere, Ali Al Habsi is still some time away from returning .

Coyle has been more than impressed with Nicholls’ form, particularly his performance against Brighton at the weekend.

“I thought Lee Nicholls was terrific,” said Coyle.

“He has done a superb job for us. There is not a problem there. At the end of the day he’s in the goals and making some terrific saves.

“He’s been very impressive for us and we’re delighted with his progress.”

Coyle doesn’t believe Nicholls deserved to be on the wrong end of the result against Brighton along with a few other players and has backed his side to bounce back.

“There are one or two that certainly didn’t deserve to be in the losing side,” he added.

“But I think our standards individually and as a group are certainly better than what we saw in the second half and that’s something I’ve said before.

“We need to look for a positive reaction and get back to the level from before.

“We will look to bounce back and we’ll look to do it quickly, try and get that momentum we’ve had before the international break and look to get going again.”