CALLUM McManaman’s return from suspension this weekend will be like a new signing for Wigan Athletic.
That’s the view of Owen Coyle, who has been robbed of the services of the forward since his straight red card at Bournemouth on August 20.
It’s been a frustrating campaign for McManaman, whose three appearances all came off the bench as he continues his recovery from ankle trouble.
“If there was a positive to Callum’s suspension, at least the medical staff had the opportunity to get to the nuts and bolts of the injury he’s recovering from,” Coyle told the Evening Post.
“Bit by bit we’ve been building him back up to where we want him to be, and I know that Callum will have a huge impact on this season.
“What we have to do is make sure he’s physically able to have the impact we know he is capable of.
“We’ve missed him these last three matches, because in the short time he was on the field at Barnsley and at Bournemouth he looked very sharp and back to his best.
“To be able to bring him back in is, for me, just like signing a top, top player.”
McManaman is certain to be involved at Leicester on Saturday, while Coyle is also hopeful that new signing Nick Powell could feature.
The 19-year-old joined Latics on deadline day on a season-long loan from Manchester United, although he too has had his injury problems of late.
“Nick is in a similar situation to Callum, where he’s not quite 100 per cent at the fitness level we’d like him to be,” the Wigan boss added.
“He had an injury at the start of the season, and he only came back last week before going away with the England Under-21s.
“He didn’t play in either of their games, but what he did do was manage to get a week and half of good training under his belt which is just what he needed.
“The next step is to get games under his belt, but judging by our fixture list over the coming weeks that is one thing that won’t be a problem.”