GARY Caldwell has backed Shaun Maloney to fire Wigan Athletic out of relegation danger – for the second year in a row.
Maloney last week gave Latics a major boost by signing a new two-and-a-half year deal to remain at the DW.
The Scotland playmaker took time to find his feet following his move from Celtic in the summer of 2011, but was outstanding as Latics pulled off the greatest of escapes at the end of last term.
And he has continued that form into this term, although Wigan’s results have taken something of a downturn.
A run of one win in the last 10 matches has leftLatics second-bottom of the Premier League with just 15 games remaining.
But Caldwell – a team mate of Maloney for club and country – believes his pal’s decision to commit his future to Wigan will act as a catalyst for another end-of-season resurgence.
“I obviously know Shaun very well and had been speaking to him about the situation, and I was beginning to get a little worried the longer it dragged on,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“With only six months of his deal to go, and playing as well as he has been doing, he obviously had other options.
“For him to choose Wigan shows how important this club is to him and he showed again at the weekend what an outstanding player he is.
“Being a good friend of his, I want him at the football club and I know better than anyone how good he can be.
“I feel he was the difference last between us pulling clear of the relegation zone, and we’re going to need him to do the same this year.
“It’s great that he’s signed up.
“I think it’ll settle his mind and enable him to focus on producing performances like we know he’s capable of.”
l FRANCO di Santo has been named in the Argentina squad for next month’s friendly against Sweden alongside Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi.
James McCarthy has been joined by ex-Latic Conor Sammon in the Ireland squad for their friendly against Poland in Dublin.
l Mauro Boselli was last night linked with a loan move to Palermo.
Sources in Italy said the out-of-favour striker was close to wrapping up a transfer window move.