WIGAN Athletic are facing a race against time to complete a double deal for Inverness striker Billy McKay and Leeds defender Jason Pearce.
Both men have been putting the final touches to their moves to the DW Stadium, but must be registered by noon today to be eligible to face high-flying Ipswich Town tomorrow.
Boss Malky Mackay is desperate to have both McKay and Pearce available to bolster his squad after continuing his transfer-window clear-out yesterday.
Ivan Ramis became the latest big-name departure – the eighth of the month – after joining Levante following the cancellation of his contract by mutual consent.
The 30-year-old, one of the top earners at the DW, made it clear to Mackay that he wanted to return to his homeland after two-and-a-half years in England.
And Mackay gave the green light to free up more cash to spend on squad reinforcements.
“Ivan asked if there was a chance he could go back to Spain because he sees his life back there again,” revealed Mackay.
“He’s not playing at the moment and was out of contract in the summer, and we felt that, in both our interests, this was the best solution.
“The contract was cancelled by mutual consent and I want to say good luck to him.
“He is a good professional and he goes with the warmest regards of everyone at Wigan Athletic.”
Mackay has already earmarked 27-year-old Pearce as a like-for-like replacement.
And Leeds boss Neil Redfearn yesterday hinted a cross-Pennines deal was imminent.
“Perhaps,” said the former Latics midfielder. “Obviously Wigan have shown a great interest in Jason and it might be that that’s the case.”
However, Redfearn poured cold water on reports Latics would also be swooping for Jamaica international midfielder Rudy Austin, who is out of contract at the end of campaign.
“Rudy has been in the side and, for me, he is not for sale, at all costs,” added Redfearn.
“We want to try and keep Rudy, because you look at your (Lewis) Cooks and your (Charlie) Taylors and your (Sam) Byrams and your (Alex) Mowatts and you need your Rudy Austins in there to give them that lift and give them that experience.
“The point of the matter is if we are climbing and we are building then you keep your better players, and you add better players to it.
“You don’t let your better players go, simple as.”
Meanwhile, Callum McManaman had some kind words for Latics after being unveiled as a West Bromwich Albion player yesterday.
The 23-year-old has put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half year deal with Tony Pulis’ men, but admits he leaves Wigan with a heavy heart.
“I have to admit it was hard to leave Wigan after being there for eight years because I liked the club, fans, everything,” McManaman said.
“But joining up with Tony was a pull, he’s someone who gets results and he seems like a top bloke as well.
“The Premier League, though, was the main factor for me. I’ve missed it a lot, to be honest.
“Once the chance came to return to the Premier League, I had to go for it. It’s exciting.”
McManaman’s new boss could not hide his delight at securing his top transfer target of the window.
“We’ve spent a lot of time chasing him,” said Pulis of McManaman, who is in line to make his debut tomorrow against Tottenham at the Hawthorns.
“He has good ability, can score a goal, and we need people to create chances and take opportunities in the final third, and he’s proven at this level.
“I like having wide players in the team who can run up and down the pitch, can take the team up the pitch, and the crowd like players who can take individuals out of a game, and Callum can do that.”