Warren Joyce admits he’s desperate to hold on to Wigan Athletic’s wing wizard Yanic Wildschut beyond Tuesday night’s transfer deadline.
Latics are understood to have turned down two bids of £4million from Championship rivals Derby and Norwich on Saturday, for a player they signed exactly 12 months ago from Middlesbrough for just £1million.
The flying Dutchman appeared off the bench towards the end of Sunday’s 4-0 defeat at Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
And Joyce is keeping his fingers crossed it wasn’t his swansong in a Latics shirt.
“It’s simple as far as I’m concerned - you don’t want to sell your best players,” Joyce acknowledged.
“I’ve come here and I’m trying to build a football club.
“I don’t think Yanic had played a full game this season before I came to the football club.
“He’s progressed, he’s lost weight, he’s sharper, he’s fitter.
“I believe in him as a player, and I know he could play on stages like this (Old Trafford) every week.
“Those are the kind of players you want to keep hold of.”
Latics were already two goals down when Wildschut - who had only trained once in the week after recovering from a hamstring problem - emerged from the bench.
“Yanic’s not trained really since the Burton game, he’s had one day’s work, so you’re gambling at 2-0,” Joyce revealed.
“You don’t want to expose him for longer than that, but you’re just trying to build him up for Friday’s game (against Sheffield Wednesday).
“He was actually coming on at 1-0, and we conceded again before we could get him on the field.
“You’re thinking it’s still tight, and you can still do something, and it’s a different game if he comes on at 1-0 rather than 2-0.”
During his time at the DW Stadium, Wildschut has helped Latics win promotion from the third tier, being named in the League One ‘Team of the Year’ despite not having played the full campaign.
And he has rediscovered his top form since Joyce replaced Gary Caldwell as manager in November.
All five of Wildschut’s five goals this term have come since November 28, with Joyce likening the player to England starlet Marcus Rashford in terms of his acceleration and ability to change a game.
The ball is now back in the court of Derby and Norwich - as well as any other suitors, who have until 11pm on Tuesday to make their move before the transfer window slams shut.
Norwich boss Alex Neil was asked about Wildschut in his post-match press conference on Saturday, although he played a textbook straight bat in return.
“The one thing I don’t like doing is commenting on other teams’ players,” said Neil. “But we are trying to get lads in.”