The absence of Will Grigg for the relegation run-in has been ‘a major blow’ for Wigan Athletic, according to interim manager Graham Barrow.
Grigg couldn’t stop scoring last season in a goal-den campaign for club and country.
The Northern Ireland international plundered 29 goals in all, that saw him not only fire Latics to the League One title – winning the Golden Boot in the process – but also win a squad place at Euro 2016.
Unfortunately his trip to the Euros – when he didn’t get on the field – had a knock-on effect into this term.
After a summer break of less than a fortnight, Grigg was badly under-done at the start of the Championship campaign.
A purple patch of six goals in 10 games in August and September hinted at his quality, but the last of those – against Wolves on September 27 – was his last in the league.
After a succession of niggling injuries – and a spell out of the side under Warren Joyce – Grigg was cut down by a knee injury last month that ended his season.
With Latics crying out for goals – only 39 in 44 league games – Barrow admits it’s a case of what might have been.
“That was a major blow for me, because I could have seen Will linking up with Nick Powell,” acknowledged Barrow.
“He’s always had a good relationship with Michael Jacobs, and Ryan Colclough – and I could never understand him being pushed to one side to be honest.
“Will, on a day like Saturday, could have got us a goal when we needed one – and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him in the Championship.”
Last season was the third time Grigg had fired 20-plus goals in League One, with 21 of his goals coming in the last 22 matches.
“He got better last season from Christmas onwards,” added Barrow.
“And I think he’s one of those players – in that run of form – who could have made a major contribution to what we need at the moment.”