Wigan Athletic boss Warren Joyce would be happy to pitch rookie goalkeeper Dan Lavercombe in for a dramatic debut at Huddersfield on Monday.
The 19-year-old, signed earlier this season from non-league Torquay, is currently Wigan’s No.2 stopper after Adam Bogdan’s season – and loan stay the DW – was ended by a cruciate ligament injury.
While Jussi Jaaskelainen, 41, is a more than able and experienced deputy, 19-year-old Lavercombe is at the other end of the spectrum, having yet to make his Football League bow.
Latics are thought to be exploring the possibility of bringing in experienced cover in the form of a free agent, but in the meantime Lavercombe is preparing for a baptism of fire in front of the TV cameras.
“As things stand he’s next in line, and you want to give young players opportunities,” Joyce told the Evening Post.
“They’ve got to be ready for those opportunities, and be ready to grasp them with both hands if they come along.
“Dan’s impressed me with the way he conducts himself, and in training.
“Obviously I’ve not seen him under the pressure of a game, and he’s not been one I’ve really been keeping an eye on, because you’re trying to learn as much as you can about the outfield players.
“We obviously had two senior keepers, so it wasn’t one I was really scrutinising until this week. I’ve watched the two reserve games he’s played since I’ve been here, and he’s done quite well in both games.”
Ex-Italy international Marco Amelia, who is without a club after leaving Chelsea in the summer, has been mooted as a possible short-term option.
But he would have to be registered by 12pm on Sunday – and have received international clearance – to feature at Huddersfield.
With Craig Morgan and Shaun MacDonald unavailable through suspension, Nick Powell out with a hamstring problem and a virus sweeping the camp – Dan Burn and Will Grigg among those affected – it’s given Joyce his first real problem as a senior manager.
“Last Saturday was actually the first time I’ve been involved with a team where the goalkeeper’s been stretchered off – and that’s in 20-odd years,” he mused.
“You’re thinking instantly that’s sod’s law, but Jussi came on and handled it because he’s such a good pro.
“It’s obviously not the easiest thing, just having one experienced goalkeeper, even on a daily basis.
“It makes the younger ones step up to the plate, puts pressure on them.”