LATEST; Wigan Athletic in Trouble, Crucial Midfielder six-week injury”

The news that midfielder Matt Smith could miss up to six weeks of play due to a hernia issue has dealt Shaun Maloney a crushing blow.

The former Arsenal player, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Thursday, had been playing despite pain last weekend before being removed from the firing line.

The Latics manager also disclosed that surgery will be necessary to treat the stomach problem.

“I don’t know how these injuries happened; he was wrestling with his stomach.

He was the ideal type of No. 6 or No. 8 I needed this summer, as seen by his performances against Derby, Carlisle, and Bolton.

But I believe that during the past several weeks, you have also noticed that he was beginning to find it difficult to make an influence on the games.

We needed to give Matt Smith time to recuperate because he wasn’t the same Matt Smith we had seen in the first five or six games.

With Liam Shaw making a good debut in the league at Burton in the middle of the week, one door shuts and another one opens.

“Matt will be a big loss,” admitted Maloney. But we have other players ready to step up, which is why we’ve sought to assemble a group.

“We have Scott Smith, who performed well in the last game, James Balagizi, who performed well in midweek, and Liam.

And Baba, who I knew was prepared to play for the first team two days prior to the Derby game, has already been heavily relied upon.

“He’s suddenly on the team for each and every game, and this is the time we see others step up,”

Maloney also gave an update on center-back Jason Kerr, who has been sidelined for nearly a year following a catastrophic knee injury sustained at Swansea in November of last year.

Jason is still not returned to full training, according to Maloney. “Jason is only doing certain parts of training,” she said.

And because Jason has been away for such a long time, I really want to keep the burden off of him. As a result, we’ll have to allow him four to six weeks to train with the team before we start building up his match schedule.

“It will be a huge, huge boost if we meet him at any point in December.

“I’m sure he’ll approach me and want things to move along more quickly, but since it’s been so long, we won’t rush it.

Simply having him here and among the group has been beneficial.

“I am aware of what he accomplished before moving here; he played for St. Johnstone in Scotland during a memorable season.

The more people like that you have, the better it is. He is desperate to resume competing.

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