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Opposition Lowdown: Shaun Maloney’s Wigan Athletic

Reading’s final home game of the season sees The Royals face fellow relegation battlers Wigan Athletic. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

Watford v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images


Wigan Athletic secured promotion back to the Championship last season with The Latics finishing as League One Champions. They were relegated to the third tier of English football after finishing 23rd in the Championship the previous season.

The side currently sit bottom of the Championship table but do still hold slim hopes of survival. However, they would have to win both of their last two games and hope other results go their way.

Like Reading, Wigan have seen a points deduction this season, with the EFL deducting them three points due to unpaid wages in March this year. They have however hit a small patch of form, winning their last two games, beating Stoke City and Millwall, after a three-game losing streak.

The two sides last faced each other in September, with Reading beating Wigan 0-1 at the DW Stadium, with Tom Ince scoring the winner.

The boss

Shaun Maloney: Maloney became Wigan’s third manager of season when he joined the club in January this year, following the departure of Kolo Toure, who was sacked after less than two months in charge. Maloney played for the likes of Celtic, Aston Villa, Wigan and Hull City prior to his retirement from playing in 2017.

Following his retirement, Maloney had coaching spells at Celtic and the Belgian national team, before securing his first managerial role at Hibernian in 2021. He spent five months in charge at Hibs before his sacking in April 2022, following six wins, six draws and seven losses in 19 games.

The 40-year-old Scotsman has picked up 18 points in the league in his 16 games in charge so far. He likes his sides to play attacking football, while building from the back.

Reading v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium
Maloney in action against Reading during his Hull days


Wigan supplemented their squad with a number of loan signings in January. They brought in defenders Martin Kelly (West Bromwich Albion) and Omar Rekik (Arsenal), striker Danel Sinani (Norwich City) and midfielders Christ Tiehi (Slovan Liberec) and Miguel Azeez (brother of Reading’s Femi), from Arsenal. They also signed former Liverpool defender Steven Caulker on a free transfer.

Defender Martin Kelly will miss out on Saturday’s game after being ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Striker Ashley Fletcher will miss out with a broken arm, while the game is also expected to come too soon for Danel Sinani. Goalkeeper Ben Amos is also expected to remain out.

Expected line-up

Jones, Darikwa, Rekik, Whatmough, Nyambe, McClean, Power, Tiehi, Lang, Aasgaard, Keane

Key player

Will Keane: Striker Keane signed for Wigan on a permanent deal in October 2020 following his release from Ipswich Town at the end of the previous season. This started his second spell with The Latics after a one-month loan spell with the club in November 2013.

Keane came through the Manchester United academy alongside his twin brother Michael, who plays for Premier League Everton. He made three appearances for United and had loan spells at Wigan, QPR, Sheffield Wednesday and Preston North End before leaving Manchester permanently when he signed for Hull City in 2016. While at Hull he also made a loan move to Ipswich Town, before signing a one-year deal with the club following his release in August 2019.

Keane finished as the League One top scorer last season, having netted 26 goals, and was named in the PFA League One team of the year. The 29-year-old can play anywhere across the front three, is a strong finisher and has 12 goals to his name so far this season.

One to watch

Thelo Aasgaard: Attacking midfielder Aasgaard joined Wigan in 2016 at the age of 14, having previously been in the Liverpool youth team. He made his Latics debut in October 2020 and has since gone on to make 91 appearances for the club, scoring nine goals.

The 20-year-old Norwegian has represented his country at under-16 and under-20 level. Aasgaard is now a regular in the first-team squad and has made 42 appearances for Wigan this season, scoring four goals, including the winner against Millwall last weekend.

He can play in the number 10 position or the left wing and is a strong dribbler.