Caldwell aims to make up lost ground

Gary Caldwell with Jason Pearce
Gary Caldwell with Jason Pearce
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WIGAN Athletic will aim to make up for lost ground when they make the short trip to the Fylde coast to face Fleetwood this afternoon.

Latics were left frustrated on Boxing Day when unprecedented flooding in the North West saw their clash against fellow League One heavyweights Sheffield United called off.

While the playing surface at the DW featured a growing number of puddles, the incredible effects on the access the roads in and around the stadium meant a postponement was the only sensible decision. With promotion rivals Peterborough taking full advantage and beating Chesterfield 2-0, Latics slipped to sixth in the League One standings on goal difference, eight points behind joint-leaders Walsall and Burton Albion.

This afternoon’s opponents Fleetwood were also able to beat the weather on Boxing Day, securing a decent 1-1 draw on the road at fellow strugglers Shrewsbury.

But it remains to be seen the extent of the damage to their own playing surface at Highbury during the recent rainfall.

Latics are aiming to record their first league double of the season against Town, having beaten them 2-1 at the DW back in September. That game was the last victory enjoyed with Rich O’Donnell in goal, the ex-Walsall custodian also featuring in subsequent league draws against Oldham and Millwall before losing his place to Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Interestingly, O’Donnell wasn’t even on the bench for the 2-0 victory at Barnsley just before Christmas, with Lee Nicholls – back from a successful loan spell at League Two outfit Bristol Rovers – preferred on the bench.

And Latics boss Gary Caldwell admits the door is open for Nicholls to mount a serious challenge for the No.1 spot, having gained much-needed match fitness during his time with the Pirates.

“All of the goalkeepers we have here – and we have three or four excellent ones –should be pushing Jussi for the No.1 jersey,” Caldwell acknowledged.

“Lee came back from a loan spell where he’d done very well, and went straight on to the bench because of his application in training and his presence when he came back.

“He looked like he’d grown as a goalkeeper and as a footballer, and I thought it was only right he went straight back in.

“As with any loan player, if they do well elsewhere and come back, I’ve no problem putting them back in to the squad and help us to get where we want to be.”