Wigan’s Al Habsi playing for keeps after clean start

Wigan's Ali Al Habsi
Wigan's Ali Al Habsi

ALI AL Habsi is hoping he’s back in the Wigan Athletic side for keeps after returning with a clean sheet at Ipswich, writes Paul Kendrick.

The Oman No.1 marked his first league appearance of the campaign with a shut-out as Latics picked up a precious point at 
the high-flying Tractor Boys.

And having reclaimed his spot in the side after a frustrating campaign, Al Habsi is hoping to end the season on a high and help Latics retain their Championship status.

“I was so happy to be back on the team sheet and with a clean sheet,” he told the Evening Post.

“I thought we battled fantastically well, we gave 100 per cent, and from now on that is what we must produce every week.

“If we can put in performances like that against every team in the division we’ll be fine.

“To go to Ipswich and get a point, against a team flying high at the top of the table, is pleasing.

“We’re not happy with where we are in the league table, but we have another big game on Saturday against Bournemouth and we need a repeat performance.” Al Habsi has worked tirelessly behind the scenes despite being relegated second choice to Scott Carson for much of the last 18 months.

He produced a superb display in the FA Cup defeat at Bolton last month, only to jet out to Australia directly after the game to captain Oman at the Asian Cup.

Now he’s back for good, the 33-year-old – who is out of contract in the summer – is anxious to make up for lost time.

“I’ve waited for this,” he recognised.

“I work hard in training every single day, to try to give the manager a hard decision.

“He gave me the chance to show what I can do on Saturday, and I’m happy with how it went.

“Nine months I have been out of the team, going back to last April, but I will always give 100 per cent for this football club and keep my head up.

“It’s an important stage of the season, and I’m happy to have got into the side at this time.

“The team needs to push on now and I’m ready for the challenge.

“We’ve been in this position many times before in the Premier League, and we have to do it again.

“We have 18 games to go, there are a lot of points to play for, and hopefully there are some good times ahead.”