mkdons.com takes a close look at new goalkeeper Lee Nicholls...
A regular for Wigan’s reserve side, Nicholls was handed his first call-up to the first team, as a 17-year-old, for an FA Cup third-round tie against Hull City in January 2010.
Later that month, Nicholls was rewarded with his first professional contract – a two-and-a-half year deal to remain at the DW Stadium until June 2012.
He was once again included in Roberto Martinez’s matchday squad, this time for a Premier League fixture at home to Bolton Wanderers, in October the following season – one of two time he featured for the Latics first-team in 2010/11.
Also that campaign, Nicholls spent time on loan with Hartlepool United, Shrewsbury Town and Sheffield Wednesday but was limited to substitute appearances for all three clubs.
Nicholls maintained his good form for Wigan’s reserves at the start of the 2011/12 season and, in January, extended his contract until 2014.
In February, he joined Accrington Stanley on a short-term loan deal and he made his first senior appearance in a League Two clash with Swindon. Over the next two months went on to feature nine times for the Robins.
Nicholls joined Northampton Town on a season-long loan at the start of the following campaign and on his debut against Rochdale he kept a clean sheet. Nicholls tallied 48 appearances during the 2012/13 season, keeping 19 shut-outs and helping the Cobblers reach the Play-Off final.
Earning a place on the bench for Wigan in their Community Shield clash with Manchester United at Wembley Stadium, Nicholls made his first senior appearance for the Latics in October 2013, keeping a clean sheet and helping his side earn a point away at Charlton Athletic.
He played eight more times for Wigan that season, including two appearances in the Europa League as well as a start against Manchester City in the EFL Cup. He kept three clean-sheets in his six Championship outings.
Nicholls was limited to just one appearance for the Latics in 2014/15, so joined Bristol Rovers on loan in September of last season.
He impressed during his four months at the Memorial Ground, keeping five clean sheets and setting the Pirates up for what turned out to be a successful promotion push.
Nicholls then returned to Lancashire to help with the Latics’ assault on the League One title – he played twice during the final months as Wigan went on to claim the divisional honours.