Jussi new deal hope

Jussi Jaaskelainen
Jussi Jaaskelainen

Jussi Jaaskelainen is playing his way towards a new deal at Wigan Athletic.

That’s the message from manager Gary Caldwell, who admits the 40-year-old’s form since arriving last summer has been so impressive that keeping hold of him is already a priority for next term.

Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw at Millwall was Jaaskelainen’s fifth shut-out in the last six matches - and his 12th in 26 outings as a Latics player since taking over from Rich O’Donnell at the beginning of October.

“Jussi’s somebody I would love to keep at the club,” Caldwell told the Observer.

“We haven’t really spoken about it, because we’re obviously in the thick of a promotion push.

“Jussi’s focused on the games at the moment, as are we.

“But I’m sure it’s something we will look at come the end of the season.”

Jaaskelainen arrived to little fanfare last summer, with O’Donnell expected to be first choice after his capture from Walsall and Lee Nicholls also waiting in the wings for an opportunity.

Indeed the only match he’s missed since breaking into the side was the 4-0 FA Cup debacle at Bury, which helped pave the way for O’Donnell’s January exit for Bristol City.

And as Caldwell is the first to acknowledge, Jaaskelainen has fast become literally the first name on the team sheet.

“I probably didn’t expect Jussi to have performed the way he has,” admitted Caldwell.

“He was just somebody we thought had good experience, at a time when we were signing a lot of younger players.

“We knew he’d come in and not just help the goalkeepers but the other players as well. He’s done that and more.

“His performances have been incredible, but it’s also his mentality to work that rubs off on other people around the place.”