Friday, January 13, 2006
Jewell admits Latics are 'really stretched'
Wigan boss Paul Jewell admits he is 'down to the bare bones' as a tortuous fixture list begins to squeeze the Latics squad.
Wigan face their seventh game in 21 days with the visit of West Brom to the JJB Stadium on Sunday while Jewell's players are now dropping like flies.With striker Henri Camara away on international duty with Senegal in the African Nations Cup, Jewell lost another forward in David Connolly to a hamstring injury in Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final first-leg triumph over Arsenal.The 1-0 victory also accounted for winger Lee McCulloch with a groin strain, and he is extremely doubtful for the clash with the Baggies.When you add into the equation defenders Ryan Taylor, Leighton Baines, David Wright and Emerson Thome are also on the sidelines, Jewell faces a major headache.For so long this season Jewell enjoyed the luxury of picking from a virtually fully-fit squad, but as the games have come thick and fast in recent weeks, so the treatment room has become increasingly busy.'We lost two forward-thinking players in the match with Arsenal, and now we are right down to the bare bones,' said Jewell.'We had 15 fit outfield players for that game, now we have 13. David has no chance and Lee is struggling.'It means we are really stretched now. We've others with bumps and bruises as well, the walking wounded, but hopefully they won't be too bad ahead of what is now a really tough game against West Brom.'At the moment we are asking people to play in strange positions, but the players deserve great credit for coping with that.'Jewell, who has been linked with a move for Portsmouth's versatile player Matt Taylor, added: 'It just shows the need to try to bring some players in.'We will have to make even more inroads into the transfer market if we possibly can.'At least Wigan face struggling Albion on the back of a second-half display against Arsenal that was more like the Latics side that had previously lifted the club into the Champions League qualifying places.That, at least, is something for Jewell to build on as he said: 'In the first half we were staid, flat and I was disappointed.'They didn't show enough desire or energy, and they didn't make any tackles. We didn't get close to them.'But certainly our second-half performance was so much like the old Wigan.'Debutant Paul Scharner emerged as the hero against Arsenal, scoring the only goal of the game, and there is every chance he will make his Premiership bow against Albion.Although Jewell paid Norwegian side Brann Bergen £2.5million for a player he primarily bought as a defender, Scharner looked adept in the centre of midfield after replacing McCulloch.'The natural thing would have been to have replaced Lee with Damien Francis, who is a central midfield player,' added Jewell.'But I just thought Paul is new, and his energy and enthusiasm might just give us the spark we were lacking.'Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong. But he gave us that lift and energy and he made a difference.'We did buy him to play centre-half, but I did say when I signed him he could play in midfield.'