WIGAN Athletic are preparing themselves for a secondary attack from West Brom over Callum McManaman.
Latics turned down the Baggies’ opening offer for the 23-year-old, believed to be in the region of £4million.
But the word from the West Midlands is that new boss Tony Pulis is determined to get his man and will return with an improved bid.
Latics, despite their perilous league position, are in a relatively strong situation regarding McManaman.
Unlike 10 of his colleagues who are out of contract this summer, McManaman has two-and-a-half years remaining on his present deal.
Laticsare believed to value the winger –the man of the match in the 2013 FA Cup final – in the £5-6million bracket.
And although he has struggled to hit form in recent weeks – not helped by a recent three-match ban following his sending-off against Sheffield Wednesday – he remains the club’s joint top-scorer with five goals on account of his fine start to the campaign.
McManaman himself has not publicly expressed a wish to leave the club, but may find a return to the top flight difficult to resist if the two clubs were to agree on a fee.
The situation regarding Shaun Maloney is slightly different.
Maloney is in the last six months of his contract and is already able to speak to other clubs regarding a Bosman move in the summer.
It looked like the Scotland star – who turns 32 on Saturday – was on his way to Leicester last week, only for the move to collapse over personal terms.
American outfit Chicago Fire appear to be the new favourites to secure Maloney’s signature, but they are believed to be reluctant to pay the rumoured £1million fee Latics had agreed with Leicester.
As things stand, they could take Maloney for free when his Latics contract expires on June 30 – but by then he would have missed most of the MLS campaign.
Latics will not, as they did with Roger Espinoza, release Maloney from the last six months of his contract as he remains a key player in their fight against the drop.
At the weekend, he emerged off the bench at half-time and laid on the equaliser for James McClean, before hacking a late effort from Jason Lowe off the Latics line to preserve a point.
It remains to be seen whether the Fire come up with a cash offer to tempt Latics, who would then be able to free up Maloney’s wages for the rest of the season in their bid to bring in new blood.
Malky Mackay is hopeful of drafting in a new signing before the weekend, with a striker top of his wish-list.