Callum McManaman on how and why he's embracing 'senior' role at Wigan Athletic

Callum McManaman admits he's revelling in the role of being the grand old man of Wigan Athletic.
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It's more than a decade since the Academy product was the star man on Latics' greatest ever day in the FA Cup final, at the end of his maiden full season in the first team.

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Now in his third spell with Latics, McManaman is relishing being the senior man in a squad that is the youngest in the whole EFL.

Callum McManaman admits he's relishing his new 'senior' role at Wigan AthleticCallum McManaman admits he's relishing his new 'senior' role at Wigan Athletic
Callum McManaman admits he's relishing his new 'senior' role at Wigan Athletic
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And having spent much of last season training with the Under-21s in an attempt to win a contract, McManaman has found himself guiding many of those same players as they make their mark in senior football.

When asked whether he saw himself as having a 'mentoring' role, McManaman replied: "I do see that, which has surprised me, because as a youngster I never saw myself of that character.

"I am quite quiet, until I really know people, type of thing.

"Coming in last year with the Under-21s, obviously it was just for me to get fit at the time.

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"But I got to know the lads really well at the time, and now half of them are in the first team, so I've already built up that relationship with them.

"They look up to me, and come up to me and ask me for advice, and I'm more than happy to help them.

"To be honest, I've really enjoyed that role, which as I say has surprised me...and probably the gaffer as well.

"He obviously played alongside me when I was younger and I probably wasn't that type of character.

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"But I still feel I've got a few years left in me yet, and I feel I can help the younger lads along the way as part of my role."

McManaman, who turns 33 next April, has certainly been making the most of what he acknowledged was his last chance in the game.

Indeed, only Academy graduate Sam Tickle and Stephen Humphrys can match his 21 appearances in all competitions, with another local product, Charlie Hughes, next best on 20.

"I feel I've done well when I've been on the pitch," said McManaman.

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"I would have liked to have started more of the games, but I think what's killed me a little bit during my career, is that I've been good off the bench, I always have been.

"Sometimes it looks as though you're better off the bench than at the start, and that sort of goes against you sometimes.

"But when you're coming on and scoring winning goals like I have this season, I'll probably take that as well."

McManaman has also added a new quality to his game in his latter years - getting back to help his full-back out.

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"Obviously I'd rather be higher up the pitch, but I think I'm good at that as well, to be honest," he added.

"When I was first here, I probably wouldn't have been as good at that aspect of my game.

"But when you've worked for Tony Puli, and a few other managers, you kind of pick stuff up along the way.

"I feel I've worked hard at the defensive and off the ball stuff, and I've got a lot better at it, certainly from when I was younger."

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