Gary Caldwell will think long and hard about whether to hand Jordi Gomez a dramatic second Wigan Athletic ‘debut’ at Nottingham Forest today.
The mercurial Spaniard this week re-signed for the club on a one-year deal, a move that has gone down very well with the Latics fanbase.
Gomez had fallen down the pecking order at Sunderland and, as a result, was not part of their pre-season preparations for the new campaign.
However, with blinding goals on each of his last two trips to Forest with Latics, Caldwell admits there is a huge temptation to pitch him straight in at the deep end.
“Jordi clearly likes it at Forest, and it’s funny how things like that work,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“Craig Davies has also scored a lot of goals against Birmingham, which I only found out after the game on Tuesday night.
“If I’d known that in advance, I’d probably have started him!
“But you do get that, certain teams you like playing against, certain grounds you enjoy going to, and obviously Jordi has something about the City Ground.
“I don’t think he’s physically up to the levels that the other players are at.
“The energy and the intensity the players have been showing – with and without the ball – is incredible, and he still has a bit to go because of the pre-season he’s had.
“We’ll look at everything, and pick a team and a bench that we think is best to get a result.”
The return of Gomez is a real coup for Latics – although Caldwell insists he’ll have to prove himself worthy of a spot in a midfield he reckons is the best in the division.
“He’s got to earn that right,” the Latics chief acknowledged.
“I think he’s coming in to a midfield of great quality, great competition, so he’ll have to work hard first and foremost.
“Fitness-wise he’s not where he needs to be, so he’s got a lot of hard work to do to get up to speed.
“Then he’s got to earn that right to play in a midfield that I think – in terms of numbers and quality – is right up there with the very best in the Championship.”
Also in line to make his debut at the City Ground is left-back Luke Garbutt, who joined this week from Everton on loan until January.
“Luke’s played a lot of football on loan at a lot of clubs at a lot of different levels, which can only be good,” Caldwell assessed.
“He’ll be another that brings in great quality to a position where we didn’t really have a left-wing back who could play that role in the way we wanted.
“Perks (David Perkins) has done magnificent in there, but he and everybody else knows that it’s not his natural position.
“Now I think we’ll get that quality and threat down that left side in Luke, in both open play and set-pieces.
“His left foot is a wand – he can put the ball wherever he wants it.”