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Thursday, January 19, 2006
Jewell throws lifeline to Thompson and Mellor

Wigan manager Paul Jewell has offered a career lifeline to David Thompson and Neil Mellor in a double transfer gamble.

Midfielder Thompson has signed a deal until the end of the season after being released from a contract at Blackburn that was due to expire in the summer.

Liverpool striker Neil Mellor has signed on loan for the rest of the campaign, both moves with a view to a permanent transfer.

However, the short-term nature of the two signings is representative of the fact the duo have been plagued with serious injury problems.

Thompson was out for nine months from late 2003 with a knee ligament problem, with his return in August 2004 lasting a mere 17 minutes as he broke two bones in a foot.

That led to another three months on the sidelines, but due to the injury failing to heal properly, he was forced to undergo surgery at the end of last season.

Thompson's woes did not end there, though, as complications with his knee arose while on a pre-season tour to Germany, leading to a visit to renowned specialist Hans-Muller Wohlfahrt.

Although a strengthening programme followed, Thompson made just eight appearances this season for Rovers, including three starts.

As for Mellor, the 23-year-old required surgery early last year on both knees to cure tendonitis, with his last first-team appearance a year ago as a late substitute in the shock FA Cup third-round replay defeat at Burnley.

Jewell, though, is unperturbed, with both passing medicals and going straight into the squad for Saturday's trip to Middlesbrough.

'David is a terrific signing for us. He has shown a real hunger to be involved with the Wigan project,' said Jewell.

'He's a talented lad who can play in a number of positions and he also has an eye for goal.

'I only believe in bringing players in who add something new to our squad, and in signing David we have done that.

'With Neil, he will bring us a new dimension, and add competition to the squad which we need at the present time.

'Neil is a good young striker who is looking for a chance to prove himself again at this level. He is strong, skilful and with an eye for goal.

'I'm delighted to have both on board.'

Rovers boss Mark Hughes appreciates Thompson's desire to pursue his career elsewhere, with the Welshman stating: 'It has been difficult for David.

'He has had a lot of injuries and he was coming to the end of his contract here.

'We have a lot of options in midfield and it was a case of looking at the balance of the squad and seeing what we need for next year.'

Thompson's versatility means he can play anywhere across midfield, while Mellor's arrival comes at a time when Wigan have Henri Camara on African Nations' Cup duty with Senegal and David Connolly out with a hamstring injury.

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