Lee is No 1 pick as 46 keepers come under scrutiny

Well schooled: Lee Nicholls is rated highly by Wigan Athletic
Well schooled: Lee Nicholls is rated highly by Wigan Athletic
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WEDNESDAY checked out 46 goalkeepers, mainly in the Premier League and the Championship, as they explored a difficult market after losing Nicky Weaver and Arron Jameson to injuries.

The search ended happily with Wigan 18-year-old Lee Nicholls, who, like Bolton midfield man Joey O’Brien, has joined the club on loan for the rest of the season.

“Lee is an up and coming goalkeeper,” said assistant manager Chris Evans. “He is in the England Under 19 team; he has been highly recommended and well schooled. He did well for the reserves against Chelsea this week.

“We’re delighted to bring him into the club, to supplement the goalkeeping department. We’re looking to have competition in all positions. I’m sure he will be wanting to fight for the shirt.”

Richard O’Donnell looks certain to play at Dagenham tomorrow, with Nicholls probably on the bench, where academy keeper Sean Cuff had to be called up last week.

Nicholls, born in Liverpool, was Wigan’s Young Player of the Year in 2009-10.

He has had loan spells at Shrewsbury and Hartlepool but has not played a senior game. Wigan boss Roberto Martinez rates him as a good prospect, and he was given a professional contract at the age of 17.

O’Brien is seen by Megson as a midfield player, the role he filled in his previous Hillsborough loan spell, though he has also played for Bolton at right back.

Evans added: “I think the manager has done terrific. He’s got contacts. Joey has come at no cost to the club.”

“It’s a huge positive for a League One club to get the opportunity to bring in a Premier League player at no cost.

“The move ticks a lot of boxes, but obviously we have brought Joey in for football reasons. We’ve worked with him before and we’re looking forward to working with him again.

“We’re getting an opportunity to look at him. He’s coming back from injury and has been playing reserve football.

“It’s the same for all our players - they have a great opportunity to be appraised.”