ENGLAND Under-21s head coach Stuart Pearce is keeping firm tabs on talented young Latics striker Callum McManaman.
Knowsley-born McManaman, who has already featured in a handful of Premier League and Cup games for Roberto Martinez’s side, played a starring role in last month’s Under-20s World Cup as England reached the last 16 stage of the competition before losing 1-0 to Nigeria in Bogota, Colombia.
Now England Under-20s head coach Brian Eastick has urged McManaman to stay focused and concentrate on making the next crucial international step up.
Eastick said: “Callum has got a lot of talent and I know Roberto has got a lot of faith in his younger players.
“When I spoke to him before Colombia the first thing he said to me was ‘are you going to give him some game time?’ and I said ‘yes he’ll play don’t worry’, and he did every game. He played on the left hand-side in a four man midfield like I know he had done for Wigan and I think he grew in confidence as the tournament went on.
“He’s quite a shy young man, very quiet, but his work ethic was outstanding and he transferred that from the training ground onto the pitch and followed the instructions.
“I’d just like to see him express himself and show his undoubted talent a little bit more.
“He’s a very good runner with the ball and he showed that in training and I think that’s an area he need to improve on, just transferring that skill in training onto the football pitch, but overall I’m very pleased with him.”
Eastick added: “Callum’s next stage is to try and get into the under-21s squad and it’s probably a better chance for him to train and play given the under-21s coach [Pearce] has been my assistant.
“It’s a great opportunity for all the 20 players that we took to Colombia.
“Stuart Pearce was there living with them for a month day in day out, seeing what they’re like on the pitch, seeing what they’re like off the pitch, seeing how they can adapt themselves.
“So all those 20 players that travelled there haven’t done themselves any harm that’s for sure.
“There’s an under-21 squad being named this weekend and I think some of the lads will be in Stuart’s thoughts and give some strong competition to get in there.
“It’s down to him [McManaman] – if he continues to work hard and progress at the club then we will continue to monitor him.
“It’s the first time Callum had been in an England squad so I’m sure Colombia was fantastic for him and a great experience.
“He can only benefit from it.
“He can only go forward from it and I think he’s under a manager that believes in him.”