Joyce’s desperate search for goalkeeping cover

Dan Lavercombe
Dan Lavercombe

Wigan Athletic boss Warren Joyce has admitted a new senior goalkeeper is his No.1 priority in the January sales.

Veteran Jussi Jaaskelainen remains the only custodian on the books with Football League experience – a situation that is causing great concern at the DW Stadium.

Youngster Owen Evans, 20, was fast-tracked on to the bench for Monday’s game against Huddersfield, after returning from a loan spell at non-league Rhyl.

That was because fellow 20-year-old Dan Lavercombe, who had been on the bench for the previous seven matches, suffered a hand injury in the lead-up to the New Year’s Eve trip to Derby.

Both have yet to make their debuts in the Football League.

“We thought Dan had broken his hand last Friday morning,” revealed Joyce.

“That was another one that’s been thrown at us, another curve-ball.

“If anything had happened to Jussi at Derby, we could have been left with no goalkeeper! At one stage, we really didn’t know who could have gone in goal.

“Dan had the x-ray, the scan, he didn’t train but, as it turned out, he hadn’t broken his hand.

“He ended up travelling down to Derby, but not in good enough condition really.”

With Adam Bogdan, who started the campaign as first choice, back at Liverpool after his season-long loan was wrecked by cruciate ligament damage, the need for reinforcements is clear.

“We knew we had to add in that department anyway,” Joyce recognised.

“But if anything happens to the young lads there is no-one else.” Jaaskelainen, who at 41 is the oldest player currently plying his trade in England, was at fault for Huddersfield’s winning goal on Monday, that extended Wigan’s losing sequence at the DW to a club-record six matches.

A poor game had looked destined to end 0-0 before Jaaskelainen spilled Town’s first shot on goal with 10 minutes remaining, which allowed Nahki Wells to prod home from close range.

“People make mistakes in every job, in every walk of life,” mused Joyce. “To be fair, we’ve played that well against Huddersfield he’s had nothing to do. Sometimes inactivity plays a part when you’re caught out late in a game where you’ve hardly made a save.”

Meanwhile, Huddersfield midfielder Dean Whitehead has hosed down speculation linking him with a January move to Latics.

The 34-year-old, who appeared off the bench in Town’s 1-0 win at the DW on Monday, said: “Of course it’s nice to be wanted, and I’m not getting any younger! But I’m at a good club that’s going places and I’m enjoying it.”