Heskey has had his detractors – but not at Wigan. (©PAphotos)
The hard fought but, ultimately, lucky point that Wigan gained last weekend away against Everton was expensively bought. Two suspensions and a potential lay-off due to a rib problem leave the Latics looking a bit threadbare in certain areas.
Certainly the loss of defensive midfielder Hendry Thomas to a one match suspension makes the upcoming game against Aston Villa - potentially winnable given Villa’s current form - a harder task.
Maynor Figueroa at left back is similarly sidelined for the same reason, but we have cover in Steve Gohouri here.
So who to play in central midfield? A combination of Momo Diame and Jordi Gomez could be the answer, Diame providing the grit and Gomez the creativity. If Tom Cleverley proves to be fit then obviously he could slot straight back in next to Diame but given the noises purportedly coming from Old Trafford about recall to cover for the Asian Cup bound Park, Tom may be a habit we must kick soon.
If I was Roberto Martinez, I’d go for James McArthur to Partner Momo Diame. While not as quick as Cleverley, the Scot is good on the ball, got vision and strength aplenty, has put a couple of good performances recently and maybe most importantly is OUR player.
Given the upheaval that is undoubtedly coming our way in January, getting as many Wigan owned players in the game now may be important come February first.
McArthur fits the bill and as his similarly named compatriot James McArthy was at this time last year, he’s ready to step up and take a major role in midfield for Wigan.
This could be his game!
Returning for Villa will be ex-Wigan favourite Emile Heskey.
Heskey is one of those players that people are sceptical about. Look at the furore about his inclusion in the England squad for the World Cup. When you observe him closely as we at Latics were lucky to do so for a year or two you can, however, see his many qualities.
He is a selfless player - gives 100 per cent for whatever team he plays for, wins every ball in the air and never ducks a challenge. He scores the odd goal but he makes plenty more. No surprise he is one of both Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen’s favourite strike partner.
When it was announced that he was leaving Wigan for Villa, many of the Latics’ faithful were dismayed - we remembered his final day relegation performance as makeshift centre half against Sheffield United - it kept us up, and felt his departure was the beginning of the end of Wigan’s top-half challenge that season.
We were right. We miss him still.
So Emile’s back - I hope he puts in an uncharacteristic bad performance, but however the day goes, let’s give him a rousing welcome. We still owe him!
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.