Kirkland set for Latics return

Chris Kirkland
Chris Kirkland

CHRIS Kirkland is poised to make a popular return to Wigan Athletic after a three-year absence.

The 34-year-old is a free agent after his contract with Sheffield Wednesday expired this summer.

And the Evening Post understands he will re-join Latics to bolster the goalkeeping ranks ahead of the big season-opener at Coventry this weekend.

Latics lost two international stoppers this summer with Ali Al Habsi and Scott Carson joining Reading and Derby respectively.

They swooped for Richard O’Donnell, Walsall’s player of the year, earlier this summer on a Bosman free transfer to redress the balance.

But with 22-year-old Lee Nicholls the only other senior goalkeeper on the books – and with only 10 senior appearances for the club – Latics have moved to add experience and reliability to their roster in the shape of the ex-England custodian.

Kirkland made 134 appearances during his first spell with Latics, the first nine of which came during his initial loan move from Liverpool which Paul Jewell quickly made permanent.

The arrival of Al Habsi in 2010 saw his first-team opportunities reduced, and it was no surprise to see him leave in 2012 to join Wednesday.

Kirkland played for Latics as recently as May this year, turning out for the ‘Legends XI’ in a charity match for Joseph’s Goal in the unfamiliar position of centre-back.

He was also seen at Christopher Park over the summer, working on his fitness while he resolved his future.

His arrival takes the total number of summer recruits to 13 ahead of the new campaign.