Hines to give Latics variety

Reporter: Latics latest, by Tony Bugby
Date published: 13 February 2009

ATHLETIC are set to hand debuts to two players in tomorrow’s important Coca-Cola League One game against Northampton Town at Boundary Park.

New loan-signing Seb Hines, who has been captured from Premier League club Middlesbrough, will come into the Athletic defence.

The 20-year-old former England youth international, who has made six first-team appearances for Boro, can play in a variety of positions. He is right footed but has played in both full-back positions as well as centre-back.

Manager John Sheridan explained why he made a move for Hines, saying: “I looked at the situation regarding bookings and suspensions and Seb provides cover in a number of positions.

“I have tried to bring him in before as he is a talented young defender who has appeared in the Premier League and he adds strength to the squad.

“He has not come to make up the numbers and to sit around, and it is my intention that he will play games.”

Hines, who is here initially for one month but who could stay for the remainder of the campaign, is likely to be joined by a new keeper as Sheridan is still searching for a replacement for the banned Greg Fleming.

The Athletic manager has until noon tomorrow to compete an emergency loan.

Sheridan has made enquiries for a number of keepers including Manchester City’s Kasper Schmeichel and Hartlepool’s Danish No 2 Jan Budtz.

In the event of Sheridan being unable to sign a keeper, he will either have to give first-year professional Josh Bell a debut or play striker Dean Windass, who took over at Leicester where he kept a clean sheet after Fleming’s dismissal.

Sheridan must also make one further change tomorrow as Chris Taylor joins Fleming on the sidelines through suspension after collecting a fifth yellow card at Leicester.

That is likely to mean a recall for Andy Liddell or Kieran Lee on the right of midfield with Deane Smalley taking over from Taylor on the left.

ATHLETIC (from): Bell, Eardley, Hines, Lomax, Golbourne, Hazell, Gregan, Stam, Liddell, Lee, Maher, Whitaker, Allott, Smalley, Hughes, Windass, Alessandra.

Northampton have not played for a fortnight which has enabled 10-goal leading scorer Adebayo Akinfenwa to recover from a hamstring strain which kept him out of the 2-1 home defeat by Leicester.

Athletic are confident tomorrow’s game will beat the freeze. A thaw is underway and, with temperatures set to rise to six degrees today and tomorrow, Athletic believe the pitch will be playable.

Athletic are liaising with Sunderland-based referee Andy Haines and it is expected he will make an inspection early tomorrow before Northampton leave at nine o’clock.

Athletic should have Daniel Jones back at Boundary Park on Monday for a second loan spell.

The 22-year-old Wolves player saw his first loan stint cut short by a serious ankle-ligament injury from which he has recovered and is ready for full-time training.