Wigan Athletic starlets need fantastic Fox fillip

Danny Fox agreeing to remain with Wigan Athletic – initially on a short-term basis – will do far more than bolster the wafer-thin backline.
Adam Long and Emeka Obi in action at FleetwoodAdam Long and Emeka Obi in action at Fleetwood
Adam Long and Emeka Obi in action at Fleetwood

The 34-year-old will also be acting as a mentor for Academy centre-backs Emeka Obi and Adam Long, who have been thrown in at the deep end due to the recent upheaval.

And Leam Richardson believes the presence of the 34-year-old former Scotland international defender is exactly what the duo - who both made their league debuts at Ipswich on Sunday - need to handle the huge step up from junior to senior football.

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“Danny’s role with them will be absolutely vital,” Richardson told the Wigan Observer.

“One of the reasons Danny’s come back to the club is his experience, he knows the place, he knows the lads coming through.

“The advice he can pass on to those young lads will be priceless in terms of their development.

“They will make mistakes, we know that.

“It’s possibly 12-18 months too soon for them to be where they are.

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“They’ll have to learn on the job, but it will be a good learning curve and we’ll see how they get on.”

Obi and Long were two of SEVEN players to appear in the league for the first time in a Latics shirt in front of the Sky cameras at Portman Road.

And with long-term recruitment being put on a backburner during the current administration process, Richardson acknowledges some of the boys in the squad will have to become men overnight.

“Will we have to rely heavily on the academy at the beginning of the season? Possibly,” he recognised.

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“But at the same time that’s a chance for those lads to come in and show what they can do at a good level.

“Although it’s a bad situation, it’s also a good opportunity for these lads, and my message to them would be: ‘Don’t waste this opportunity’.

“Although they might be fast-forwarding two or three years, it’s still a fantastic opportunity at a fantastic football club for them.

“And you never know...one or two of them may well come to the fore and represent themselves really well.”

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Latics have been able to add some experience to the squad in the shape of Viv Solomon-Otabor, Dan Gardner and Josh Clarke, all on initial one-month contracts.

And Richardson expects plenty more to join over the coming weeks, with an unprecedented number of seasoned professionals currently without a club due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Given the situation with football in general, there’s hundreds of players out there, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for a deal to materialise,” he explained.

“These lads who’ve joined us have actually got off their sofas, got in their cars and come to train with us – knowing the situation we’re in as a club.

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“They’ve all been a pleasure to work with, all very good players, very attacking players who bring a lot to the squad.

“We’ve also tried to make sure we’ve got good people coming into a bad situation, and those three are certainly that.”

Also arriving last week was John Sheridan, who answered Richardson’s SOS for experienced back-up in a technical area vacated over the summer by Paul Cook.

“For somebody as experienced as John to come in and put his name to this situation is great,” Richardson added.

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“He’s come into a number of situations in the Football League and come out the other end a better person and a better manager.

“And I’m sure it’ll be the same here.

“I took the problems to the administrators a week ago, and stressed to them the importance of a structure in place.

“It’s important we are proactive in our duties, and the administrators have been very sound with that.

“It’s a situation that John could easily have said no to, but he’s rolling his sleeves up and getting ready to come into work.

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“I don’t think anybody should be disrespectful or underestimating the challenge he is fronting up to take.

“It’s going to be a rocky road for a number of weeks, even months, but I’m sure we’ll survive with the spirit we have at this club - and we will come out of it stronger.”