Republic of Ireland internationals James McClean and Will Keane played their part for Wigan as they earned a 0-0 draw at Championship playoff-chasing Blackburn in new manager Shaun Maloney's first game in charge.

The closest they came to securing a victory that would have lifted them off the bottom of the Championship was debutant Martin Kelly's disallowed second-half bundled effort.

But Maloney, who spent four years at the DW Stadium as a player, will be encouraged with his new side, who battled gamely to register their first clean sheet in the league since their victory over Blackburn in October. They are now three points from safety.

It was a disappointing performance from Blackburn, who missed the chance to move back into the top six.

Ben Brereton Diaz and Sorba Thomas both had decent first-half chances but they flattered to deceive thereafter and are now winless in three in the league.

Jon Dahl Tomasson handed a debut to on-loan Thomas, and Hayden Carter replaced the injured Daniel Ayala.

Maloney gave debuts to Omar Rekik, Danel Sinani and Kelly, while Ireland internationals James McClean and Will Keane both started.

Wigan were almost undone in the fourth minute when Bradley Dack's pass set Brereton Diaz clear and he charged in from the left only to place his 12-yard shot too close to Ben Amos who was able to save.

The visitors looked confident on the ball at times and Rekik saw a shot blocked after engineering space in the area but Rovers passed up another good opportunity midway through the half when patient play saw the ball find Joe Rankin-Costello who dragged wide of the far post.

Callum Lang almost hammered in a spectacular opener from 25 yards that whistled just over the bar, before he finally did force Aynsley Pears into a save in the 38th minute.

The greater threat came from the hosts, and Thomas ought to have done better three minutes before the break when Jack Vale found him on the right but Amos made a sharp, low save to deny the Welshman.

Will Keane has won four Ireland caps

Debutant Rekik went close five minutes after the restart, breaking past a couple of challenges before curling just wide of the bottom right corner.

Latics thought they had taken the lead in the 65th minute when Kelly bundled a deep corner home but Lang was penalised for impeding the goalkeeper - but the defender showed his worth immediately at the other end by producing a stunning defensive header to deny Sam Gallagher a certain opener.

Rovers went close again three minutes later when a Lewis Travis cross bobbled up as Amos was ready to deal with it but the goalkeeper reacted quickly to keep the ball out.

But they could not fashion a winner, with Tyler Morton putting a late free-kick wide and the home support made their feelings known at the final whistle.

Keane was withdrawn with 15 minutes to go, while McClean played the full 90 minutes, incurring a booking for a foul on Joe Rankin-Costello which briefly led to angry scenes between both sides.