I remember the day we signed Stephen Warnock on loan from Derby County until the end of the season. My mate told me it had been confirmed and my first reaction was: why?
I then learned that our most natural (and often questionable) left-back Reece James had unfortunately suffered a more serious injury than everyone had first expected – one that has kept him out until the present day.
Chris McCann has excelled in the role during James’ absence, but at the time that Warnock joined he faced a two-match suspension due to accumulating too many bookings.
Since then, Warnock has been one of our key players in the latter stages of what has been an incredible 20 game unbeaten run for Wigan Athletic; and he is even keeping McCann out the starting eleven.
I remember in our Premier League days we played Blackburn Rovers at home in the 2008-09 season. The former England international was up against Luis Antonio Valencia on the wing.
Stephen won’t thank me for saying this, but Valencia’s pace ripped him apart that day and Latics won the game 3-0.
But what he lacks in pace he makes up for in energy, resilience and invaluable experience at this level of football.
First of all he’s adapted to Gary Caldwell’s formations and philosophy with ease, whether it be filling into a back three as the left centre-back, or using his tireless energy to get up and down the pitch as the left full-back of a back four.
He’s also the type of defender who’ll put his body on the line for the team’s cause and his experience has helped shore up our already strong defence further.
Warnock has been another exceptional signing and the 34-year old is reportedly out of contract at the end of the current campaign.
If we are to be promoted back to the Championship, he might be worth signing on a free transfer to give us vital experience that could help us to keep progressing in the next term.