Wigan Athletic boss Gary Caldwell is looking to keep veteran keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen at the club beyond the end of the season, when the 40-year-old’s current contract with The Latics expires.
Jaaskelainen impressed Caldwell enough to snatch the starting spot away from previous number one keeper Richard O’Donnell in October, and has since gone on to shine in a surging Wigan side on course for promotion to the Championship.
Signed after being released from Premier League side West Ham at the end of the 14/15 season, it appeared Jaaskelainen was destined for the bench behind newly-signed former Walsall keeper Richard O’Donnell.
However, a poor string of performances saw O’Donnell switched for Jaaskelainen prior to Wigan’s fixture against Walsall on 3 October. Since then, Jaaskelainen has nailed down the starting position in goal, eventually resulting in O’Donnell being sold in a deadline day deal with Bristol City.
In 26 appearances for The Latics, Jaaskelainen has recorded 12 clean sheets, a total good enough for second best in League One, only behind Burton keeper Jon McLaughlin.
Speaking to the Wigan Observer, Latics boss Gary Caldwell outlined his plans for Jaaskelainen:
“Jussi’s somebody I would love to keep at the club,
“We haven’t really spoken about it, because we’re obviously in the thick of a promotion push.
“But I’m sure it’s something we will look at come the end of the season.”
Caldwell admitted even he was surprised with how impressive the 40-year-old veteran has been for Wigan, having initially signed Jaaskelainen not thinking he’d become the side’s regular starting keeper:
“I probably didn’t expect Jussi to have performed the way he has,
“He was just somebody we thought had good experience, at a time when we were signing a lot of younger players.”
Caldwell said that Jaaskelainen’s experience in the game has proven crucial, especially for the younger players in the club’s ranks:
“We knew he’d come in and not just help the goalkeepers but the other players as well. He’s done that and more.
“His performances have been incredible, but it’s also his mentality to work that rubs off on other people around the place.”
Caldwell and Wigan will need Jaaskelainen to continue to play at a high level if The Latics wish to secure an automatic promotion spot in Sky Bet League One this season.