Wigan move in to hijack Gary Caldwell's Boro switch

GARY Caldwell was last night understood to be holding transfer talks with Wigan Athletic as a move to the English Premier League emerged as an alternative to a potential reunion with his former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan at Championship side Middlesbrough.

Celtic accepted an undisclosed bid from Middlesbrough last week for the Scotland defender, and Caldwell had appeared destined to move to the Riverside along with team-mates Barry Robson, Willo Flood and Chris Killen, who are also wanted by Strachan.

The remaining Celtic trio should still complete switches to Middlesbrough this week, but 27-year-old Caldwell – voted the football writers' player of the year in the SPL last season – is now thought to be seriously considering a late offer from Wigan.

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Caldwell's impending exit from Parkhead, where he has struggled to replicate the outstanding form he demonstrated in the 2008-09 season, was hastened on Monday when Celtic manager Tony Mowbray paid 2 million to recruit Dutch central defender Jos Hooiveld from Swedish side AIK.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has money to spend as he tries to consolidate his side's place in the Premier League and steer them clear of a possible relegation battle. The Spaniard, who last summer turned down the Celtic job later filled by Mowbray, signed Ivory Coast international Steven Gohouri yesterday, and wants further defensive cover, especially as Wigan have suffered some heavy defeats in the first half of the season, notably 9-1 at Tottenham and 5-0 at Manchester United.

A fee of around 1 million should secure the signature of Caldwell, who has six months of his Celtic contract remaining.