Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

Kirkland back for Bolton clash

Chris Kirkland

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has no worries about throwing Chris Kirkland back into Barclays Premier League action when Bolton visit the DW Stadium on Saturday.

The former England goalkeeper has not played since conceding six goals at home to Chelsea in August but, with Ali Al-Habsi ineligible to play against his parent club, Martinez will turn to the 29-year-old. Wigan's thrashing by Chelsea came only a week after their 4-0 home defeat by Blackpool on the opening day of the season, which prompted Martinez to make changes, with Kirkland's back problem playing a part in his decision.

Martinez said: "We have to remember Chris Kirkland wasn't fully fit at the start of the season. He's been working really well, he's been pain free for a long time and he's ready. Chris Kirkland's going to play at the weekend and that's something that we're all excited about."

He added: "Chris is not a young man, he's very, very experienced and he's always performed as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.

"He's been a real help around the dressing room, giving the right advice at the right time. He's really helped the team and that's huge credit to him.

"It's important as an experienced footballer to have an impact even when you're not in the first XI and Chris has been a fantastic example."

Martinez is also without veteran keeper Mike Pollitt after he underwent elbow surgery so Kirkland's back-up will be youngster Lee Nicholls.

Another player who will be unavailable on Saturday is club captain Gary Caldwell but, after coming through a reserve run-out on Tuesday, the defender is closing in on a first-team return.

Caldwell spent the summer on crutches recovering from a double hip operation and played his first full game in the reserves' 2-0 win over Manchester City this week.

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