A POTENTIALLY season-ending injury to Chris Herd was the only downside as Wigan Athletic gave themselves a massive shot in the arm courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 win at Reading.
Latics closed the gap between themselves and fourth-bottom Brighton to six points with 15 games still to go thanks to Jason Pearce’s first-half goal on debut.
The visitors had to endure 11 minutes of added time at the end, following a lengthy delay at the start of the second half while Herd was treated and eventually stretchered off.
And boss Malky Mackay admitted the Australian’s injury had taken some of the gloss off a magnificent three points..
“Chris is not so good, not so good,” mused Mackay.
“On top of Grant Holt’s cruciate, Emyr Huws’ ankle and Juan Carlos contracting leukaemia last week,
Chris looks as though he has an issue with his medial ligament which could see him maybe needing surgery and missing the rest of the season.
“It’s another situation we’re just going to have to deal with, but they seem to be coming thick and fast at the moment.
“He’s been fantastic since he’s been here, he has a huge character and his his performances have been excellent.
“It’s a huge blow to lose him.”Herd and William Kvist had formed an effective barrier in front of a back four featuring a fledgling centre-back pairing of Pearce and Harry Maguire, both given first starts following the return to the MLS of loanee Liam Ridgewell and the injury-enforced absence of Leon Barnett,
“The centre-backs really gelled together, they stood up strong and they showed their mettle,” gushed Mackay.
“And I thought it was a thoroughly deserved win, I thought we played well.
“Playing against a good team with a lot of experience, to come to their ground and win the way we did really delighted me.
“It’s a brand new group - we’ve only been together for three weeks - and there’s only been one performance that’s let me down.
“There’s been a few as good as this that have not quite had the result, but I’m looking at some real warriors in there and we don’t look like we’re down and out.
“The group looks like it will fight for every point, and that’s what we need to keep doing.”