Wolves Vs Wigan Athletic, Sat 16 Jan 2010

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Football News

Mick McCarthy has hailed the performances of veteran Wolves defender Jody Craddock and admitted he has given him "food for thought" regarding a new contract.

The 34-year-old will make his 200th appearance for the club in the home Barclays Premier League clash with Wigan - seven years after moving from Sunderland in a £1.75 million deal.

Craddock's days at Molineux look numbered two seasons ago when he was allowed to join Stoke on loan.

But McCarthy recalled him and Craddock has regained his spot in the team and played a key role in Wolves battle to stay in the top flight in addition to weighing in with four goals this season.

McCarthy told Press Association Sport: "Jody has been terrific. He was out on loan at Stoke a couple of years ago, I brought him back and he has been terrific ever since to be honest.

"I have to be honest. He looked like he was leaving at one stage. At that time, we had players playing better than him in the team.

"Then I put him back in - and he stopped others from getting in the team by his performances.

"Players like him and (veteran keeper) Marcus Hahnemann are invaluable, those sort of guys.

"They keep doing the right things and then get in the team and the message is `right, now move me.'

"Jody really has been unmovable and he has got us some vital goals as well and was top scorer at one time.

"When he goes up for set pieces, he attacks the ball and really means it and he really has been terrific.

"If he carries on playing the way he is, he will give me food for thought (regarding a new contract)."

McCarthy is aware of the significance of Saturday's clash with Wolves level on points with Wigan.

He said: "It looks like the most open league for a long time with `only' five points between 10th spot and 19th.

"After we won against Burnley two or three weeks back, we went from being in the bottom three up to 12th position. It really is that tight.

"It is alright saying there is 'only' five points to get to reach 10th spot. Every point in this league is hard fought for."

Record signing Kevin Doyle has recovered from illness and defender Christophe Berra the concussion which ruled them out of the single goal FA Cup win at Tranmere a fortnight ago.

Wigan Athletic

New Wigan defender Gary Caldwell is looking to "stamp his authority" on the team after manager Roberto Martinez admitted he signed the centre-back partly because of his leadership qualities.

The former Celtic captain agreed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Latics this week having snubbed former boss Gordon Strachan's offer to take him to Coca-Cola Championship side Middlesbrough.

"I have played a lot of games now and having Champions League experience with Celtic has helped me," said the 27-year-old, likely to go straight into the squad for tomorrow's match at Wolves "I am ready for this challenge, to come to a team and stamp my authority in the way I play the game on Wigan.

"It is a different style of club; Celtic is a huge organisation known throughout the world but unfortunately they play in Scotland and Wigan play in the Premier League, which is where the challenge is."

Martinez will look to Caldwell to provide some organisation to a defence which has conceded the most goals - 44 in 19 matches - in the Premier League and will forever be haunted by November's 9-1 mauling at Spurs.

The manager hopes the Scotland international - whom he hailed as being one of a dying breed of defenders - will be an inspiration and it is possible he could one day succeed Mario Melchiot as captain.

Caldwell is just keen to kick-start his Barclays Premier League career, having previously missed out during a four-year spell as a trainee with Newcastle over a decade ago.

"You dream of playing for that club in the best league in the world and it didn't happen," he admitted.

"It has taken a long road and a lot of roundabout turns to get here but I'm here now and I can't wait to get started."

Integral to that blueprint is Martinez keeping hold of his best players and the Spaniard said he will confidently rebuff any approaches for striker Hugo Rodallega and defender Maynor Figueroa this month.

Birmingham and Stoke have both been linked with #10million-rated Colombia international Rodallega but there would be several others interested if he were to become available.

Honduras left-back Figueroa has long been a target for former boss Steve Bruce at Sunderland, while goalkeeper Chris Kirkland and winger Charles N'Zogbia have also been linked with moves.

However, Martinez said he had not received any approaches for his most prized assets and would resist any which were to come in before the window closes.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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