Wigan Athletic Academy 'has been set back' by horror year

Wigan Athletic’s Academy has inevitably been ‘set back’ by the off-field events of the last 12 months.
The Latics Academy enjoyed a hugely successful campaign last termThe Latics Academy enjoyed a hugely successful campaign last term
The Latics Academy enjoyed a hugely successful campaign last term

That’s the view of CEO Mal Brannigan, who has already outlined his determination to strengthen the youth set-up that helped prop up the club during its darkest hour.

Last Thursday’s departure of Under-18 star Sean McGurk to Leeds was the latest in an increasing tale of woe regarding talent that had been earmarked to secure the club’s long-term sustainability.

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The sad but necessary sales of England trio Joe Gelhardt (Leeds), Jensen Weir (Brighton) and Alfie Devine (Tottenham) enabled the wages to be paid last summer which prevented the whole squad leaving for nothing.

And the production line of youngsters helped Latics compete throughout the most difficult season in their history, which resulted in a miraculous escape from relegation.

Sadly, the damage done during administration is still being felt, with Scotland Under-19 striker Kyle Joseph having recently moved to Swansea and centre-back James Carragher – son of Jamie – possibly following McGurk out of the door, with Everton interested.

And Brannigan admits the whole situation – while out of his control for now – is something that will be addressed as a priority.

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“I would like to say the Academy hasn’t been set back by what’s happened in the last year,” he told Wigan Today. "But I think we have.

“We have seen a number of academy graduates go on to become professional footballers, either here or elsewhere.

“And I think that could well continue over the next six months or so, because of the huge impact the last 12 months has had on this football club.

“It’s unfortunate, of course, but it’s an inevitable by-product of what happened.

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“The responsibility now is to put that Academy back to where it was and to strengthen it further.”

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