DONALD Love has appreciated being back at Wigan Athletic this week after his recent exertions with the Scotland Under-21 side.
If only to thaw out a little bit!
“It was great, we drew 2-2 with Ukraine at St Mirren, and we should have won the game,” revealed the on-loan Manchester United defender, speaking back at Wigan’s Christopher Park training complex.
“The weather conditions up there were horrific, though – the worst I’ve ever played in.
“It was windy, raining hard, everything you can imagine.
“Standing there for the national anthem, in a short-sleeved shirt, was the coldest I’ve ever been in my life.
“After a couple of minutes you forget about it, though. Once you’re warmed up you forget about the cold, you’re only thinking of the game.
“And it’s great to get away with Scotland now and then, and being recognised at international level.
“You’re playing against the best players from other nations – it’s amazing.”
Love has enjoyed adapting to international duty away from the incessant nature of club combat.
“It’s a lot different, because no-one expects Scotland to be winning games and winning things,” he explained.
“At United and here with Wigan, you’re expected to win games and things.
“Teams are trying to stop you, whereas with Scotland it’s more about us trying to stop other teams.
“There’s probably less pressure at international level, but we still feel we can win every game we play.”
The 20-year-old has also been forced to adapt during his short time with Latics.
Having arrived as a right-back or centre-back by trade, he has enjoyed getting to grips with the right wing-back position in Gary Caldwell’s preferred five-man defence.
“I’m playing wing-back at Wigan and that’s quite a new experience for me,” he acknowledged.
“It’s allowing me to bomb on down the wing and that’s something I really enjoy doing.
“At United and Scotland I’m more used to playing in the traditional right-back role. But the more positions you can play, the better for you, and I see it as a bonus.
“At Wigan, we obviously see more of the ball than the opposition, so we’re always looking to attack.”
While he’s still waiting for his first Latics goal, he did pick up his maiden assist for Michael Jacobs’ goal at Bradford last month.
“I love getting forward as much as I can – I’d actually sooner get an assist than a goal,” the Rochdale-born ace admitted.
“I don’t really like praise – people telling me how well I’ve done.
“I like knowing I’ve done well, that’s enough for me.”
And as to whether his exploits on loan at the DW have got back to a certain Mr Van Gaal at Old Trafford, Love is not getting carried away.
“I’m not really thinking about who might be watching or trying to impress anyone at United,” he added.
“All I’m thinking about is trying to win the game, playing my normal game and doing the best I possibly can.
“It’s been a bit of a stop-start time for me so far, with me going away with Scotland a few times already.
“I’ve not been able to put together a good run of games yet, but hopefully if my loan gets extended I can make that happen.
“I’d love to help to get this club back up in to the Championship. If we carry on playing the way we are, then teams will struggle to stop us.
“I just think maybe away from home we need to see games out better than we perhaps have.
“Take the Bradford game, when we went 1-0 up only to concede a poor goal from a corner.
“The Bury game was obviously different, when everything went wrong.
“That was my last game for Wigan – I can’t wait to get that one out of my system.”