Wigan Athletic boss Gary Caldwell has been given a massive boost with Michael Jacobs successfully negotiating his long-awaited return from injury.
The 24-year-old – arguably Wigan’s top performer in the first half of the campaign – has been out since damaging a calf in the 1-1 draw at Crewe back on January 23.
But after several weeks of careful treatment and gruelling rehab, Jacobs played the first half-hour for the Development Squad against Burton yesterday, and marked his comeback with a goal in Wigan’s 8-1 triumph.
The return of Jacobs at a crucial stage of the League One campaign will only strengthen the hand of a manager who has already seen his side go 18 matches unbeaten and rise to within a point of the summit.
Vice-captain Jason Pearce made his own comeback from injury on Easter Monday, helping Latics to a crucial 1-0 win over Rochdale.
And Caldwell admits you can never have enough quality players – or vast experience – at this stage of the season.
“Any time you’ve been over the course before, and you understand what’s involved, has to be beneficial,” acknowleged the Wigan boss.
“It’s never going to be easy, and we’re at the stage of the season now where it’s getting edgy.
“You can feel it in the stands on a matchday, and you have to have strong characters on the pitch to be able to deal with that.
“You need people who can keep pulling people around, keep them focused on doing their jobs.
“Those kind of characters will be vital between now and the end of the season.”
A ridiculously-strong Latics side were far too good for their Final Third Development League West opponents at Christopher Park, and indeed scored all eight goals in an embarrassingly one-sided first 45.
Haris Vuckic scored a brace either side of Jacobs’ effort and later completed his hat-trick, with Tim Chow, Matty Hamilton, Craig Davies (penalty) and Sam Cosgrove also on the mark.