Gary Caldwell admits he’ll continue to make ‘tough decisions – like leaving out wing wizard Yanic Wildschut – to keep Wigan Athletic on the promotion trail.
Latics entertain north-west neighbours Bury this afternoon, knowing a win could take them within a point of long-time leaders Burton, who face fellow-promotion chasers Walsall.
The Saddlers will be desperate to get back to winning ways after losing a thrilling contest with Latics last weekend right at the death.
Wildschut popped up with a stoppage-time winner, having only appeared as a 73rd-minute substitute.
It was a bold call to leave out the £1million man, but Caldwell’s decision was proved correct.
And the Latics chief says he’ll not be afraid to leave out Wildschut or any other of his key players if it fits the bill for a certain clash.
“It was a tough decision to leave someone like Yanic out at Walsall,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“I’m sure many fans before the game must have thought I was mad.
“But you have to that – you have to make decisions you feel are right for the team.
“I go through it all with my staff, we go through all the permutations of players and try to pick a team we think is right for the game.
“I know Yanic was unhappy not to start, but he bought into what we were trying to do.
“He got his mind ready to be ready to make an impact when he came on.
“And that’s so important to have that in the squad.
Caldwell’s options will be increased further when Michael Jacobs has recovered from the calf problem that has kept him out for a month.
Jacobs is still nowhere near a return to first-team duty, although Latics have managed to remain on the promotion charge without arguably their star man of the first half of the campaign.
Caldwell says it’s credit to his players that they’ve been able to cover the loss of Jacobs and even make up ground at the top of the table.
“This week I watched back the three previous games against Bury this season, and you see Michael playing, and realise how big a miss he is,” acknowledged Caldwell.
“For us to be winning games without a player of his quality shows how much strength we have.
“Michael’s progressing well. One tear has fully healed, but the other one further down his calf hasn’t quite healed.
“There’s still a bit of healing to do before he’s able to get out on the grass and start the next part of his rehab.”
There is better news concerning defender Kevin McNaughton, who hasn’t kicked a ball for the first team since damaging a knee on his first league start at Gillingham back in August.
The ex-Bolton and Cardiff man has come through a couple of Development Squad games unscathed, and he is knocking on the door for a recall.
“Kevin’s back in full training, he’s working really hard and it’s great to have him back in the squad,” revealed Caldwell.
“He has great experience, he’s a great lad and he keeps everyone going.”