Duo edge closer to long-awaited returns

Wigan Athletic players celebrate after Shaun Maloney's goal at the weekend
Wigan Athletic players celebrate after Shaun Maloney's goal at the weekend

WIGAN Athletic duo Ben Watson and Chris McCann are back in contention for tomorrow night’s trip to Brighton.

Watson (broken leg) and McCann (shattered kneecap) have been out of action for nine and eight months respectively.

But both came through 90 minutes for the Development Squad last week for the first time this season.

And Wigan boss Uwe Rosler admits they are on the verge of welcome returns to the fold at a crucial point of the campaign.

“I wouldn’t say either of them would be ready to start at Brighton, but maybe one will come off the bench,” revealed Rosler.

“It would be a big boost to give them a taste of competitive football after so long.”

The return of one or both would be a massive fillip for Latics, who came within two minutes of recording a first home win in over two months on Saturday only to concede a late equaliser in the 3-3 draw against Fulham.

On the plus side Latics scored at the DW for the first time in four matches.

But at the other end it was a different story as defensive errors cost Latics two precious points.

“It was two points dropped, definitely,” acknowledged James Tavernier.

“We’re so disappointed, but sometimes these things happen.

“On the positive side, we’ve shown we’re starting to score goals.

“But having only conceded one goal in the last three matches, to concede three is not good enough.

“Defensively we have to improve, we can’t be conceding that many goals.”

Tavernier was again impressive going forward as Latics attempted to record back-to-back wins for only the second time this term.

“We stuck to the game-plan like we did at Derby and I think that showed,” the right-back recognised.

“They switched their game-plan so we had to change, and it still worked.

“We stayed positive, we attacked them really well, but it’s just disappointing to end like that.

“We showed great spirit in the second half to stay in the game, and we thought we had it won at the end.”

Shaun Maloney’s goal within seconds of coming on as a second-half substitute had looked as though it would be enough for Latics to secure a much-needed win.

However, right at the death, a mistake by Rob Kiernan led to Leon Barnett hauling down Hugo Rodallega as the Latics old boy prepared to shoot, allowing Bryan Ruiz to level the scores from the penalty 
spot.

“If there would have been one person I’d have had confidence in to get that ball it would have been Leon, with those big legs of his,” added Tavernier.

“It was unfortunate that he just couldn’t get his toe on the ball.”