ALAN Hutton WILL be up to speed if he is plunged in for a debut in this afternoon’s local derby against Blackburn Rovers.
That was the positive verdict of Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman yesterday as he announced the signing of the Scotland international defender on a month-long loan from Aston Villa.
The 29-year-old right-back has played no club football this season – his last seven competitive appearances being for his country.
But Freedman has no worries about putting the former Glasgow Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur star into his line-up for today’s Reebok showdown.
“It doesn’t worry me,” he said. “My homework tells me that he’s a fit lad and when I have seen him play for the national team he doesn’t seem to be struggling fitness-wise.
“If you’re asking him to play three games in a week, it would catch up with anybody but we’re not asking him to do that right now.”
Freedman turned to Hutton after missing out on Sweden international Mikael Dyrestam last week – but supporters’ eyebrows were raised when Hutton, reported to be on £40,000-a-week at Villa, was seen as a viable target.
While the Whites boss did not detail the salary split between Villa and Wanderers, he said the deal was funded by “money left in the pot” from the offloading of David Ngog and Craig Davies in January. Freedman’s search was made more urgent this week when it was confirmed Matt Mills would miss at least a fortnight with a knee injury.
Hutton fell completely out of favour at Villa Park and was loaned out to Nottingham Forest and Mallorca last season. He is yet to play a game under Paul Lambert in the Premier League but Freedman feels his fellow Scot is now itching to kick-start his career.
“We’d enquired about a couple of players but when I spoke to Alan, his enthusiasm came over,” he said. “When you bring a player to the football club there has to be something in it for them as well.
“He wants to play football. He’s still playing for the national team and we can benefit us.
“I don’t know if he’s got anything to prove to people – but perhaps himself. He plays for Scotland right now, not just turning up for numbers, but he’s got it in his head that he needs to play some football.
“I’ve made a few phone calls this week and there are players who just want to sit there – but the attitude Alan has shown coming out here right away tells me he wants to get on with it.”
Freedman confirmed Mills will miss the next couple of games, while Darren Pratley faces a longer spell on the sidelines after suffering complications over the shoulder injury suffered against Watford last weekend.
“It’s a huge challenge for us at the moment,” Freedman lamented. “Just when you start to get going we get key injuries. “You go back to Marc Tierney and it was a massive blow for us. We’ve never replaced him because I didn’t feel there was a left back out there that would come in and do the right job at the right price.
“It’s a blow for Matt because he had come in and got a good partnership going with David Wheater. It’s the same for Prats, although his will be a bit suck-it-and-see because of his shoulder.”