Wigan boss Steve Bruce expects England striker Emile Heskey to be fit for this weekend’s Barclays Premier League clash with Derby.
Heskey’s season has been blighted by injury, and the former Liverpool and Birmingham forward has recently been troubled by a back problem.
But with the Latics not in action last weekend, the 30-year-old has had time to recover – and Bruce is confident he should be able to face the Rams at the JJB Stadium on Saturday.
Heskey’s presence is important as Wigan attempt to pull away from the relegation zone, and their match against a Derby side 10 points adrift at the foot of the table offers an ideal opportunity to secure a win.
Bruce said: “Emile’s fine – touch wood.
“The only one we’ve got missing really is Ryan Taylor – I don’t expect him to be fit.
“He’ll be a ’miss’, because we have relied on his delivery – it is so good - but as managers, we need a big squad.
“We’ve got people like (Jason) Koumas and (Erik) Edman chomping at the bit to come in, so you hope they can come in and do well.”
Midfielder Taylor suffered a rib injury in Wigan’s last match, a 2-0 defeat at Sunderland a fortnight ago.
Defender Edman could come into contention, having been unable to play since his January move from Rennes because of a calf strain, but will first be given a run-out in the reserves tonight.
Another recent signing, Erik Hagen, will also feature for the second string - but having joined Wigan from Zenit St Petersburg during the Russian close season, he is not yet fully match fit.
Wigan go into the Derby game, which sees their former boss Paul Jewell return to the JJB Stadium for the first time since leaving last May, just a point above the bottom three.
Despite that difficult position, Bruce is encouraged by his side’s performance at Sunderland – which followed a win over West Ham the previous week.
He said: “It’s always frustrating when you have got to wait a couple of weeks to put things right, but there wasn’t an awful lot wrong with us on that occasion.
“A little bit of luck went against us – I thought we played extremely well.
“West Ham seems like a lifetime ago, but we played exceptionally well then to beat a good team.
“We were comfortable and we have to maintain that level of performance.”