Gary Caldwell has some difficult decisions to make over the next few days as he puts together his retained list for next season.
He will want to show loyalty to the players that won the League One title but he also knows that some are not good enough to make the step up to the Championship.
Caldwell will want to add more quality as Latics seek to maintain their progress and make an impact in a tough division.
The manager and his recruitment team are already scouring the leagues for new players, so I’ve put together a list of five players that Caldwell should be considering.
Goalkeeper – Andy Lonergan
The 32-year-old Fulham keeper has reputedly been offered a return to the North West with Latics. The former Preston, Leeds and Bolton keeper played 31 games for Fulham last season but may not be part of manager Slaviša Jokanović’s plans for next season.
The 6ft 4in shot stopper would provide strong competition with the current No.1 Jussi Jaaskelainen. The signing could also see the departure of Lee Nicholls, as Latics have several good young keepers such as Dan Lavercombe available as back up.
Centre-back – Harry Maguire
Former Latics loanee Harry Maguire would make a superb acquisition to the squad. Maguire impressed in his loan spell at the DW Stadium and was one of the few successes during Malky Mackay’s period in charge.
The highly rated defender has only made 22 league appearances for Hull City this season and many observers believe that the 23-year-old deserved to be selected more often.
The Tigers’ boss Steve Bruce has sometimes chosen to play his son Alex over Maguire and this has not gone down too well.
Newly promoted Middlesbrough and Burnley are said to be interested in signing Maguire, who would cost in the region of £3m, but Latics could be tempted to step in and offer him regular first team football in the Championship. Much will depend on which division play-off bound Hull are in next season.
Midfield – Jordi Gomez
The FA Cup winning midfielder could return to Latics next season. Loved by many and criticized by a minority for his style of play, Gomez was a creative force during the good times under Roberto Martinez.
There was a possibility of him returning on loan from Sunderland in the last transfer window, but he went on to have an impressive loan spell at Blackburn Rovers under manager Paul Lambert.
Gomez doesn’t appear to be in the plans of Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce and with uncertainty at Blackburn following Lambert’s departure; a return to the DW Stadium could be on the cards.
Striker – Conor McAleny
Everton loanee striker Conor McAleny has made a very good impression during his loan spell at Latics scoring four goals in 13 appearances.
The Liverpool born striker has previously been on loan in the Championship with Cardiff and Charlton and should have no problem stepping up to that level.
McAleny has one year left on his contract at Goodison, but he seems unlikely to break into the first team given their wealth of strikers and a move to Latics would make sense.
Striker – Sam Winnall
The Barnsley striker has been a big success in League One this season with 21 goals in 43 league appearances. The 25-year-old Winnall has been a major factor in Barnsley’s rise into the play-offs and looks capable of scoring goals at a higher level.
Leeds United had an offer for the striker turned down in January, but the Tykes may not be able to hold on to him if they don’t make it through the play-offs.
Let the transfer speculation commence!
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 13th May 2016.
I was hoping this was the 5 questions from Fez! Although you have delivered on his question about which strikers you would sign! All good choices too
Must admit Fez did spring to mind when compiling this list. I’m sure he’ll have lots more questions for me though!