Wigan Athletic boss Gary Caldwell admits the permanent signing of Stephen Warnock came several months later than he’d initially have liked.
Caldwell moved quickly to land the 34-year-old defender midway through last term, on loan from Championship outfit Derby, with whom he’d fallen out of favour.
With regular left-back Reece James sidelined with a mystery ankle problem that eventually curtailed his campaign, Warnock made the position his own with a string of consistent performances in the Latics rearguard.
Caldwell called the decision to sign him on a permanent basis this summer – after his contract at Derby had expired – a ‘no-brainer’, and admits he’d have had the deal tied up long before if the circumstances had been different.
“I’d have signed Stephen Warnock permanent if I could, when we got him on loan in February,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“I’ve known him for a long time, and I thought he was sensational when he came in to the club.
“His performances, hisattitude, his professionalism, everything he brought to the team was exceptional.
“He’s someone we wanted to tie down very quickly, and I’m delighted we were able to get that done.
“He’ll be a big part of what we’re going to do next season.”
Caldwell’s options for next term will also be boosted by the return from injury of James, who is now fully fit after surgery and champing at the bit to reclaim his spot.
The ex-Manchester United man was Wigan’s most consistent performer in the first half of last term, according to the manager, and it promises to be an interesting battle between him and Warnock for the left-back shirt when the action resumes next month.