Plan of attack starts in loan market for Malky

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MALKY Mackay will step up his desperate search for fresh attacking blood ahead of the emergency loan market deadline – and next weekend’s do-or-die clash at relegation rivals Rotherham.

Latics have just a fortnight to conclude their transfer business for the season, and the need for reinforcements was underlined in Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Leeds.

Without injured striker Leon Clarke – himself a loan arrival from Wolves – Latics looked utterly toothless in attack, failing to convert a host of decent opportunities created down the flanks.

And with Clarke a major doubt for next weekend’s all-or-nothing trip to Rotherham, Mackay will look to to beg, steal or borrow the man who could make the difference between survival and relegation.

“Absolutely,” Mackay acknowledged. “We’ve made four phone calls on four players this week, but at the moment those players are not being let out. It was always going to be a difficult situation in terms of the January market and beyond into the loan market.

“Right now there seems to be a real lack of willingness for clubs to do that - and that’s fair play.

We’ve made four phone-calls on four players this week, but at the moment those players are not being let out

Malky Mackay

“But it’s certainly affecting us at the moment.”

The loss of Clarke to a hamstring strain picked up in the midweek win at Norwich was certainly crucial at the weekend, with Leeds taking all three points from virtually their only meaningful effort on Scott Carson’s goal.

“We missed Leon Clarke today,” recognised the Latics boss.

“He tweaked his hamstring on Wednesday night and that was a disappointment for us because he’s been terrific.

“He’ll be scanned but it’ll be touch and go for next week.

“It’s not a bad one, but it was bad enough to rule him out for this weekend.

“We’ll see how he is in the middle of the week, to see whether he’ll be right for the Rotherham game.

“But it’s obviously a big blow because he’s come in and made a difference up front for us - and up front is where it counts, you’ve seen that again today.

“What we are lacking at the moment is that extra bit of quality up front to score a goal.

“If we weren’t creating chances - if the whole games was like the first half - then fair enough.

“But 19 attempts on goal, and eight of them flashing across the six-yard box - and a possible penalty - that’s all about putting the ball in the back of the net.”