MALKY Mackay admits Wigan Athletic’s need for new blood has been exacerbated by the loss of Chris Herd to a worrying knee injury.
The Australian was stretchered off during the 1-0 victory at Reading in midweek and the Latics boss has this morning confirmed he sustained medial ligament damage that has ruled him out for the rest of the season.
The midfielder has therefore returned to parent club Aston Villa.
Herd’s injury and departure is the latest setback to hit Latics as they attempt to drag themselves out of the relegation mire before the music stops on May 2.
Grant Holt (knee) and Emyr Huws (ankle) have already kicked their last balls of the campaign, while Chris McCann’s hamstring problem should sideline him for at least another week.
With Don Cowie also missing the midweek trip to the Madejski, William Kvist was left as the last recognised central midfielder standing, joined in the engine room after Herd’s departure by new-boy Kim Bo-Kyung.
Having overseen the departures of Ben Watson, Roger Espinoza, Adam Forshaw and Fraser Fyvie during January, the Latics boss is acutely aware of the need to bring in reinforcements at a critical time of the campaign.
“It’s a massive blow to lose Chris, but we’ll take it in our stride,” Mackay told the Evening Post.
“We’ll have a look at the situation and try and see what we can do about that.
“We needed additional bodies anyway – you saw that with the selection on Tuesday night.
“We had Louis Robles and Jordan Flores on the bench, and Joey Johnson also travelling down with us, because we’re down to where we are with the squad.
“It had to happen (the January transfer activity), but given what’s happened to Emyr and Chris we’re going to have to do something again.”
The loss of Herd is doubly disappointing given his ability to provide cover at right-back, while his on-field leadership will also be badly missed according to the manager.
“You need characters when you’re at the bottom of the league, and we’ve tried to bring some in,” Mackay recognised.
“There’s Herd, (Jason) Pearce, (Harry) Maguire, (James) Perch has taken on new role since he’s been captain, (Ali) Al Habsi’s definitely someone who inspires people, and (James) McClean has a new confidence since he’s been scoring his goals and been actively involved in everything we’re doing.
“You need as many of those kinds of players as possible.”
One potential recruit could be ex-Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant, who has been training with Latics this week in an attempt to win a contract.
“Jermaine has been in for a couple of days and we’ll see how that goes,” added Mackay.
“He’s a very experienced player and he’s applied himself really well so far. He’s been out in India recently, playing very regularly, so there’s certainly no issue with his fitness, he’s looking very trim.”