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Wellens Heaps Heavy Praise On Defensive Duo

8 April 2018

Manager Richie Wellens heaped praise on his defensive line following yesterday’s goalless draw against Oxford United.

Defender Kean Bryan was forced off with injury in the opening 15 minutes of the game but that allowed second year youth scholar Tom Hamer to step up to the plate.

Alongside fellow academy graduate George Edmundson, the pair were composed at the back and kept the U’s at bay as Latics earned a point on the road.

Speaking after the game, Wellens was delighted with his defensive duo. He said: “It looks like Kean’s pulled his hamstring and that’s a real blow for us. I thought when Tom Hamer came on, one centre back is 18, one is 20, in a League One relegation dog fight and we reacted really well.

“It didn’t affect us as a team and I can only remember one instance in the second half when they put us under a little bit of pressure but we defended the goal like real experienced defenders and I was pleased with both of them.

“I’d love to say I’m not scared about putting young kids in but needs must. We are a bit short on bodies in terms of centre backs but Tom Hamer has a possibility of going to the Premier League for me, maybe not at centre back but at right back.

“He is physical, he can run and we are going to play a lot of development games next year and Tom will be a big part of that. Long term he has every chance of going to the top with his attributes.

“You have to show a lot of admiration for Tom and George. When you start the game, you are ready and you prepare right but when you are thrown in after 20 minutes and at 18 years of age, you either sink or swim and I thought they swam today.”

Despite it ending goalless at the Kassam Stadium, Wellens believed it was an entertaining affair with both sides going for the win.

“I thought in the first 20 minutes Oxford were probably the better team but we managed the game really well,” he said. “We broke it up, took our time with certain things and for the last 15 minutes of the first half, Oxford couldn’t get out of their own half.

“We created good opportunities, Jack Byrne had his shot cleared off the line and there are a couple of penalty shouts in there as well.

“I didn’t really see the first one but the second one is a clear penalty but we didn’t get it. We were the team on the front foot trying to win the game in the second half, without trying to lose it as well.

“If you would have offered me a point before the game I would have probably been okay with it but then you look at the way the game has gone, we got so many opportunities. I’m disappointed the referee didn’t give a penalty for us.”

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