Jake Buxton admits his previous ties with Derby County will count for nothing this weekend with Wigan Athletic desperate for precious points at the wrong end of the Championship.
The 31-year-old joined Latics in the summer after seven successful season with the Rams, where he’d established himself as a real fans’ favourite.
But as he prepares to make his first return in enemy colours, Buxton says the only thing that matters is for his current employers to arrest their alarming slump.
“It’s always a tough period, before and after Christmas,” he told the Evening Post.
“And any game against a team like Derby County comes into the ‘big game’ category.
“Obviously it’s a special game for myself, having spent so many enjoyable years there as a player.
“But putting all of that aside, it’s all about trying to ensure Wigan Athletic pick up some points.
“We know we’ve played well in patches for a lot of the season, but it’s time to put performances to one side.
“We need to find out what’s going wrong, and start to grind out a few wins to get us moving up the table.
“We just need to pick up points as quickly as possible.”
Latics have won only four of their opening 23 league matches this term, and they currently lie four points adrift of the safety mark at the halfway mark of the campaign.
This weekend’s visitors will be looking to make amends for Derby’s 1-0 win in the corresponding fixture at the DW on December 3 – when the Rams faithful gave one of their popular terrace chants, ‘Jake Buxton is a football genius’ – one last airing.
“I was lucky enough to score a last-minute winner against Nottingham Forest, which will obviously help your standing with the supporters,” Buxton acknowledged.
“Probably the performances I put in, and the fact I wore my heart on my sleeve, coincided with the team doing well as well.
“As a player I put my body on the line, and the fans pretty much know what they’re going to get from me, and that’s still the case here at Wigan.”
Buxton has been battling a niggling Achilles problem in recent weeks but is expected to take his place in the Latics starting line-up.