Wigan boss Leam Richardson praised Charlie Wyke’s character after the striker made a key contribution on his first appearance since suffering a cardiac arrest last year.
Wyke was playing in his first competitive game since he collapsed in training on November 22.
And 12 minutes after coming off the bench, the 29-year-old set up fellow substitute Nathan Broadhead to score the only goal in 10-man Wigan’s 1-0 win at Birmingham.
Richardson said: “You know my thoughts on Charlie the person, never mind the footballer, and I know how hard he has worked from nine months ago to get back in training and get back on the pitch.
“There was never going to be anybody who could stop him. All I had to do was support him and give him that platform to do that.
“I thought his touch was fantastic so he has obviously been doing something while he’s been away! His assist was great as well.”
The Latics had Joe Bennett sent off in the 10th minute but they held Birmingham at bay before Broadhead scored to earn their first win of the Championship campaign.
Richardson added: “There are so many positives from the game, such as seeing Charlie get back on the pitch, Jamie Jones waiting for his chance and getting a clean sheet plus Nathan Broadhead’s first goal.
“But, with all the lads, I just thought the output and the reaction to the circumstances within the game were excellent. We were brave and proactive and I’m proud of the honesty of our group.”
Birmingham had been looking to maintain their solid start at St Andrew’s after a win against Huddersfield a fortnight ago was backed up by a point against Watford in midweek.
Things looked positive for them when Bennett was shown a straight red card for bringing down Lukas Jutkiewicz as he raced on to Juninho Bacuna’s through-ball.
But John Eustace’s side could not make the most of their numerical advantage and slipped to a second defeat in their last three league games.
Birmingham boss Eustace said: “It was frustrating. I thought we started the game very well in the first 20 minutes. We were excellent.
“The sending off obviously changed the way the game went. It was frustrating not to be able to break them down.
“Most importantly it was really disappointing to lose the game. (There are) lessons to be learned and we will certainly be doing that.”
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