Wabara exit my ‘biggest decision’ - Caldwell

Reece Wabara
Reece Wabara

Wigan Athletic manager Gary Caldwell admits the decision not to retain the services of defender Reece Wabara has been ‘the biggest’ of the summer so far.

Wabara arrived at the DW midway through last season from Barnsley, and was a virtual ever-present as Latics climbed from the fringes of the play-off picture to top spot by May.

Having only signed a contract until the end of the campaign, Wabara had been widely expected to put pen to paper on a long-term extension.

However, he was surprisingly among the list of players released by Latics earlier of this summer, and Caldwell has lifted the lid on the circumstances that led to his departure.

“I would say Reece was the biggest decision I had to make over the summer,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.

“I spoke to him one-on-one, and I felt he was fantastic for what we needed last season.

“He had different offers this summer, though, and I just felt it was better for him that he pursued those and we looked for something else.”

Latics also released fellow right-back Kevin McNaughton, whose campaign was wrecked by a serious knee sustained at Gillingham last August.

Replacements for the right-sided defensive duo are now a priority, although Donervon Daniels is also able to fill in there as he did on numerous occasions last term.

Also missing from the squad that returned for pre-season training last week are Haris Vuckic and Conor McAleny, who are back with parent clubs Newcastle and Everton respectively after completing loan spells.

Intriguingly, though, Caldwell refused to close the door completely on either man making a Wigan return.

“They went back to their parent clubs,” Caldwell confirmed. “But you never say never in this game.”

Latics are still waiting to hear if midfielder Chris McCann’s future lies at the DW or elsewhere.

The Irishman is another who’s out of contract, and has made no secret of the fact he’d love to stay with Latics if the right deal can be sorted.

“We’re unsure of that at the minute,” was Caldwell’s most recent update. “He’s somebody we want to keep, but as yet it’s not been finalised.”

The waters have been muddied this week by speculation linking him with Blackburn.

McCann is keen to stay in the north west, and he could be tempted to team up for a third time with Owen Coyle, who brought him to Wigan in 2013 and with whom he’d previously worked at Burnley.