Liam Ridgewell signed with MLS as a Designated Player back on June 25, 2014 and joined the Portland Timbers in mid-July. It now appears that the longtime Premier League player is head to Championship side Wigan on a short term loan. He scored two goals and added one assist in 15 games with the Timbers.
It was first reported by the Oregonian that Ridgewell would be sent to Wigan Athletic on a short-term loan that would keep him there until the end of February. According to the Oregonian, Ridgewell also received interest from Premier League side Crystal Palace. Nothing has been finalized as of yet, but confirmation could come sometime later this week. Wigan currently sits in fifth place of the Championship and could use Ridgewell to help the team to make a run back to the Premier league even if he is only with the club for six weeks or so.
Ridgewell made a total of 351 appearances for Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion from 2002 to 2014. He scored 20 goals in those appearances. His arrival in Portland was much needed as at the time the Timbers were a turnstile in the back. The Timbers had one of the worst defenses in the league at that point in the season. Ridgewell’s experience helped settle down the back line and made them a better defensive team by the end of the year.
I’m not a big fan of these off season loans, even if they are for a short time. They don’t always work out but sometimes they do. It all depends on how he is used at Wigan. If he is there to solely train to get his fitness level up, I completely understand the move. If he is there to play in matches, than there has to be a little concern for injury. Yes, I know you can get injured walking down the street, but obviously the risk is greater when playing in matches.
Another downside to the loan would be Ridgewell missing some of the Timbers preseason. He would not have that time to gel with newly signed center back Nats Borcher. If the loan goes through as expected, Ridgewell would be back with the team and have a chance to train with about two weeks to go before the clubs home opener on March 7th against Real Salt Lake.
In the end, I hope that it works out for the Timbers and Ridgewell. I also hope that he does not get injured in his time at Wigan. If he does, it could make for another long season for the Timbers.