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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 7, 2007

Whelan claims Jewell return would be first choice

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has revealed former boss Paul Jewell would 'absolutely' be his first choice to fill the managerial vacancy at JJB Stadium.

Jewell ended his six-year stint as Latics manager hours after securing their Barclays Premier League status on the final day of last season.

But following a poor start to the new campaign, his successor Chris Hutchings was sacked this week just 12 league games into his reign.

Jewell admitted earlier today that he was ready to return to management, and Whelan would be thrilled to bring him straight back to the Lancashire club.

Asked if the former Bradford and Sheffield Wednesday boss would be his first choice to replace Hutchings, Whelan told BBC Radio Five Live: 'Absolutely.'

He added: 'If he applied for the job I'd certainly love to talk to Paul.

'I had a great relationship with him at Wigan Athletic.

'I'm delighted because if he is interested I'll be talking to him, certainly.'

Whelan's head was turned by Jewell's revelation today that he is ready to listen to offers of employment after a six-month sabbatical.

'Let me make it quite clear - I have had no contact with chairman Dave Whelan these past few days or anyone at the club for that matter,' he wrote in Metro.

'But, after six months away from management, I am ready and willing to return to work.

'Any offers that come my way I will consider and I firmly believe I will return to football refreshed and a better manager.'

Hutchings, who was promoted from his role as Jewell's assistant, left Wigan after a terrible start to the season which has left the club 18th in the table. Graeme Souness had been the hot favourite to succeed him.

Jewell admits speculation over his own return has been uncomfortable, saying: 'Talk of me returning to Wigan is a little awkward because me and Chris are good friends.

'I am doubly disappointed it has not worked out for him because of our relationship and the fact I recommended him for the job when I left the club.

'I haven't spoken to him yet as I know when you're sacked the phone doesn't stop ringing. So I'll let things die down before I call him.

'In the meantime, I'm going to continue enjoying my golf until I get a better offer.'

Latics goalkeeper Carlo Nash has meanwhile been ruled out for three months after breaking an ankle in a training ground accident.

The 34-year-old former Manchester City and Preston player fell awkwardly and twisted the joint, fracturing the fibula in his right ankle.

Nash, who has not made an appearance for Wigan since joining them in the summer from Preston, had surgery to insert a metal plate and a screw into the bone and he will be in plaster for the next fortnight.

'It's a blow for Carlo who is a top pro and a great person to have at the club,' said Frank Barlow, who is caretaker manager after Hutchings' sacking.

'But he will get over the setback I'm sure and soon be back challenging for his place. Our medical team are very experienced and will get him back fit.'