Wigan Athletic could be set to lose one of their loan players in January, as suggested by Wigan Today.
The Latics are fighting against a points deduction this season but look strong in League One; they’re 14th and would be eighth were it not for the deduction. However, they have been helped by a number of loan stars, including Liam Shaw, Liam Morrison and Martial Godo.
One of the loan players who hasn’t enjoyed his time at the DW Stadium is Liverpool’s James Balagizi. The 20-year-old, who has represented his country up to Under 20 level, has struggled to make an impact for Shaun Maloney’s side. He’s only appeared in the league three times, all as a sub, with his starts coming in the EFL Trophy and one in the League Cup.
Maloney has now revealed that the player has suffered a further setback, sustaining an injury in training after an innocuous challenge, which will rule him out for six weeks – well into 2024.
“James damaged his hamstring in training, very innocuous, but it doesn’t look a very good one,” he said. “We’re probably looking at around six weeks for him, which isn’t good news.”
On the prospect of him returning to Liverpool, Maloney suggested the youngster may return for rehabilitation.
“We’ll allow him and Liverpool to decide what happens,” added Maloney. “We’ll leave that to them, whether he goes back for a week or two.”
Whilst there’s no suggestion that the player will be recalled by Liverpool, This Is Anfield suggests it could be the best for all parties after his spell at Crawley finished under similar circumstances last season.
That would likely be followed by a fresh loan, one that brings the game time Klopp’s men need to see some development in the player. At present, his only experience around the Reds’ first team came when he was named on the bench for a League Cup game against Norwich and the controversial FA Cup game against Shrewsbury. Both times, he failed to get on the field.
This wouldn’t be a big blow for Wigan. The youngster hasn’t made an impact in League One, and the injury is almost a rubber stamp on his exit from the DW.
Remember, they can only have five in the matchday squad, and alongside Shaw, Morrison, and Godo, they have Kelland Watts and Omar Rekik playing regular matches, so even if he were fit, Balagizi would struggle to get minutes.
From Liverpool’s point of view, the loan is pointless. He could have got League Cup action with them, and played for the Under 21 team in the EFL Trophy. If their player can’t get in the side, doesn’t have a viable route to regular minutes and has got injured in training, it makes sense to pull him out now and find somewhere he can thrive, perhaps in League Two, where he may get a little confidence back once fit.