Plymouth Argyle v Wigan Athletic: Early team news
Leam Richardson admits the return of Gavin Massey – and imminent comeback of Lee Evans – has been a massive boost at exactly the right time for Wigan Athletic.
Latics head down to Plymouth on Tuesday night looking to drag their way out of the League One relegation zone for the first time in five months.
Saturday’s 3-0 victory over MK Dons saw them climb to within a point of safety, with 13 matches still to go.
It was also Massey’s fifth appearance in a row after returning from a calf injury that sidelined him since November.
His assist for Callum Lang’s killer second goal showed he still has the quality to do damage at this level.
And Richardson says the absence of Massey – along with Evans, Tom Pearce and Kyle Joseph – has underlined how tough Latics have been doing it this term.
“It’s been just another of the disappointments over the season, the amount of time we’ve had to be without some of our senior players,” said the Latics boss.
“We’ve had so many long-term absences...also Lee, Tom, Kyle...it’s been another crisis within a crisis, and another challenge we’ve had to deal with.
“It was great to see Gav back to where we know he can be at the weekend, he’s a great kid who I’ve worked with for a few years.
“Physically he’s had his injuries to deal with.
“And mentally he’s also had to deal with so many of his mates and the staff move on, and the club change as much as it has since last summer.
“To see him back on the pitch, and getting another 80-plus minutes under his belt, it’s so pleasing for me to see.”
Evans has played only once – the 1-0 victory at Sunderland on December 8 – since the 1-1 draw on October 24 against Tuesday night’s opponents Plymouth.
But the Wales international’s return will also be a huge fillip for the run-in.
“Lee had a good week’s training last week,” added Richardson. “And hopefully he’ll continue to stay fit and clear of injuries for the rest of the season.”
Latics will have to make at least one change on Tuesday night, with centre-back Scott Wootton - who joined Latics from Plymouth on loan in January - unable to face his parent club.
That could mean a switch from midfield for George Johnston, with Alex Perry or Dan Gardner possibly coming into the engine room.