Latics guest player column - Grant Holt

Grant Holt back in action for the Latics development squad
Grant Holt back in action for the Latics development squad

I HAVE to say it felt good to get through 90 minutes for the first time in nine months playing for the Development Squad on Tuesday. Now I know I can do it, and do it again.

I wasn’t happy with the result – we lost 6-3 – but that’s another thing.

Grant Holt

Grant Holt

It’s just good to be back in a Wigan Athletic shirt.

I’ve still got plenty of things to work on, like my strength, but it’s a long process and it doesn’t just end overnight.

You have to keep doing it for months on end, but I’m happy with the way everything’s gone up to now.

Nine months is a long time to be out–- the longest lay-off I’ve ever had – and to be honest I don’t know how I’ve done it.

There’s been a lot of stick been sent my way for not too much reason, to be honest.

Grant Holt

I suppose you just try and get your head round it quickly and get on with it.

It’s been frustration all round ever since I’ve been at Wigan to be fair – there’s been plenty to get my head round!

That’s not saying anything derogatory about the club.

But certain things have happened and I feel I’ve been very unfortunate while I’ve been here – and this is just another chapter.

To be honest, I’ve been very driven – and I was very driven when I first came back from my loan spell at Huddersfield last Christmas.

I thought I was coming back to show everyone what I came here to do, and unfortunately that didn’t happen because of the injury.

And I really feel I’ve got unfinished business here at Wigan.

There’s been a lot of stick been sent my way for not too much reason, to be honest.

People can have their own opinion, but I’ve nothing to prove to anyone else.

The only thing I have to prove is to myself.

I’ve had nine long months of waiting to get back on the pitch, to get back to doing what I enjoy which is playing football, and finally I’m there.

I didn’t get too downhearted during my time away.

I always knew I would come back – thanks largely down to the surgeons in this day and age.

I just tried to see it as the best part of a year off, and something which would prolong my career at the end. It obviously helped with the fact that it overlapped with the off-season – although it didn’t help the family who haven’t had as many holidays as usual!

But being able to use those two months when the lads weren’t in to make the most of one-to-one work with the physios has definitely worked in my favour.

You have your up and your down days, but your family, your friends, the people at the football club – on and off the pitch – get you through.

I’ll be feeling the effects of the knee for a while, and there’s still things I need to be working on.

I’ll be doing the same programme I’ve done for the last six months, probably for the next six months, because that’s just the way it is.

You’ve got to try and keep it strong. You don’t ever want to do the injury again, so you’ve got to keep on top of it.

Hence why everyone else has gone home and I’m about to go back in the gym.

There are some things I used to take for granted – get up, go out and train.

Now it takes a lot longer – get on the bike, get warmed up, get stretched, and make sure everything’s perfect.

I feel I’m ready now to finally be able to challenge for a place in the first-team squad.

That’s a decision for the manager now. He’s obviously got a big squad of players here, and it’s up to him when he feels I’m ready.

We’ve got a great squad here – one of the best, if not the best, in League One – and are rightly one of the favourites to go on and win promotion. The trouble with that is every team you play against ups their game against you, and they’re trying their best to take your scalp.

I think generally we’ve dealt with that quite well, although in some games perhaps we haven’t taken our chances and put ourselves under a bit of pressure.

That’ll come with more games, and I think a lot of people are forgetting we have a lot of young players in the squad.

You’ve just got to stay in there. It’s the old, boring cliche that it’s a marathon not a sprint – and it is.

If we can be there or thereabouts at Christmas, which I’m sure we will be, I’m sure you’ll see the best of us after the turn of the year.

As most of you will probably know, I’m proud of my Cumbrian roots and I was at Anfield on Wednesday for my radio show to see Carlisle push Liverpool all the way to penalties in the Capital One Cup.

It was a fantastic night for the club, and I just felt so sorry for the lads who worked their socks off and probably had the better chances to win the game.

Unfortunately penalties got them in the end (inset), but I think everyone appreciated their efforts as underdogs and they went home proud.

Something like that can be massive for the whole region.

It’s not just what it brings for the supporters, it’s about what it brings for the football club.

It brings that exposure they haven’t had for a while, it brings in plenty of revenue, and it might make one or two thousand fans who have been sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon think about going to the next game.

The pleasing thing was how many young fans were in the young crowd, especially on a school night with a two-hour journey back to Carlisle. And that bodes well for the future.

When it went to penalties, I wish I’d been out there with them.

You always want to take a penalty at Anfield, and I would have been one of the first up.

And I’d have put mine away as well!