Charlie Mulgrew is set to return to the Wigan Athletic lineup against Stoke City at the weekend, after recovering from injury.
Mulgrew signed for the Latics on deadline day on a season-long loan from fellow Lancashire outfit Blackburn Rovers and has impressed a lot since coming in. The towering centre-back was a regular part of the Rovers side last season that finished 15th, comfortably clear of the relegation zone.
This season has seen him move to a side in a similar position, as Wigan look to consolidate their position in the Championship after a recent promotion from League One. Upon signing, it took Mulgrew a couple of weeks to make his way into the starting lineup, but never looked back once he did, making nine consecutive starts for the club before his injury stopped the run.
The Scotland international’s last appearance was in the 1-0 defeat to Derby County where he was withdrawn just after the hour mark with a hamstring injury, which has kept him sidelined ever since. However, Mulgrew has confirmed to the Wigan Post that he is ready for selection when he said: “The injury’s all good now, I’ve had a few days training, and it was handy to have the international break to get a wee bit extra rest.
“It feels good and we’ll see how it goes. I’ve still got a few tests to get through, but hopefully it’ll be okay.”
Mulgrew took no part in Scotland’s international schedule this week to ensure he could full recover in time for Wigan’s clash with struggling Stoke City on Saturday at the Bet365 Stadium.
With Mulgrew’s return imminent, we take a look at his season so far in numbers to see how big a boost this is for Paul Cook and Wigan.
After making his first start for the club at the end of August, Mulgrew instantly became a first-team regular, making nine starts in the league and one in the cup, totalling to 940 minutes played in a Wigan shirt this season.
In that time, he has been a crucial part of Paul Cook’s defensive unit. Mulgrew has won a very impressive 64.3% of his defensive duels this season, in a side looking to stave off relegation showing how resolute he has been at the back. Wigan will have to do a lot of defending if they stay at the bottom end of the table and performances like Mulgrew’s will go some way to helping stop that.
His figures continue to be impressive when observing the number of interceptions and clearances he makes per game too, with a staggering 6.13 interceptions and 3.26 clearances per game. The 33-year-old shows great experience to be able to read the game well to make vital interventions for the Latics on a regular basis.
Standing at 6ft 3in, Mulgrew is a towering centre back and his aerial presence is made known each week, as he has won 54% of his aerial duels over the season. With his experience in this division and at a variety of levels, it is no surprise to see Mulgrew’s impressive defensive prowess in most areas this season.
One of the centre-back’s most notable strengths is his ability with the ball at his feet, known for scoring more than his fair share of goals from the defence. Last season, he hit double-figures for Blackburn. Despite the fact that he is yet to find the net for his new club, Mulgrew has still averaged 80.1% passing accuracy, which is a very strong percentage for a centre-back playing in a side struggling to control games.
Even before looking at the figures behind his performance, it is clear to see that Mulgrew’s return for Wigan is a huge boost to their side, but all the statistics do is reaffirm that view comprehensively.