Callum McManaman, Wigan Athletic’s young player of year, will miss the summer’s European Under-21 Championship after being ruled out for three months with ankle ligament damage.
The 22-year-old was called up to Stuart Pearce’s squad to travel to Israel just hours before picking up the injury during the Latics 4-1 defeat to Arsenal, which saw the club relegated.
McManaman will sit out Wigan’s final game against Aston Villa and manager Roberto Martinez is disappointed for the winger, but relieved the news was not worse.
“It’s good news because we expected the worst,” he told Sky Sports. “But good news means he’s going to be out for the best part of three months.
“He doesn’t need surgery and that’s really positive but probably that puts him out of the under-21s.
“It is a real shame because he really deserved to finish the season with that experience.”
The former Everton youngster has been a key component of Martinez’s side this season and the Spanish boss was quick to praise him.
“Callum is disappointed but it’s such a joy to see him playing his football, he added. “It’s a joy for everyone.
“He’s been one of the sparks of the season, and not just at Wigan. He’s a real diamond of English football. He’s got no reason to feel down at all.”
After Tuesday’s defeat at the Emirates, the Latics were relegated and Martinez believes it is crucial for the player and the club if McManaman stays on.
“If one player needs to stay at the club and become an important part of this football club, it’s Callum,” he said.
“He’s been a phenomenal player for us but he’s someone who, at 22, needs to work on certain aspects to become the player he can be.
“Probably, the Championship, for him to play week in, week out and have an important role, it will be the perfect challenge for him.
“He will be a top, top player.”
Meanwhile, Shaun Maloney was delighted after netting a hat-trick of awards at the club’s end of season dinner.
The Scot, who has enjoyed an excellent campaign with the Latics, picked up the Player, Away Player and Player’s Player of the Season awards.
The 30-year-old also played a key role in Wigan’s historic FA Cup triumph and grateful for the backing he has received from his team and their fans.
“This is a really proud night for me and I’d like to thank my team mates and the fans for the support that they give me,” he told the club’s website.
“We’ve won the FA Cup and nobody can take that away from us. I’d like to thank the players and fans for their brilliant support.”
Club captain Gary Caldwell – who voted for and presented him with the Player’s Player – heaped praise on his fellow Scot, who has seven goals this season.
“This is a much deserved award for a fantastic player and friend,” said Caldwell.
“Since Shaun came to the club he’s daily standards have been superb. When he arrived I’d say he was a good player, now I’d say he is a great player.”
Other winners on the night included Arouna Kone receiving the Golden Boot and Callum McManaman getting the Young Player of the Year award.
Ben Watson’s last-gasp FA Cup winning goal was voted as the Latics’ Goal of the Season, while the win over Manchester City was named Performance of the Season.
Image courtesy of The FA, via YouTube, with thanks