David's return Perks up Latics
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But David Perkins is living, breathing proof that is simply not the case.
At the tender age of 34, Wigan’s all-action midfield terrier - their reigning Player of the Year - appears to have reinvented himself as an emergency right-back to answer an injury SOS from boss Gary Caldwell.
Despite being all left foot, Perkins has filled in during each of the last two matches with aplomb, and says he’s embracing the new challenge.
“I’ve been telling the lads that at 34 years of age I’ve found myself a new position!” he told the Evening Post.
“The manager’s asked me to do a job, and as long as I’m in the team then I’m happy to do that.
“It’s a squad game these days. I’ll just go out there and give it my all, as long as I’m contributing then I’m happy.
“The most important thing is the team getting back to winning ways.”
After seven games without a victory, Latics finally got back into the winners’ enclosure in midweek thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 triumph over Wolves.
Will Grigg’s 89th-minute strike proved decisive after Adam Le Fondre’s early effort had been cancelled out, and Perkins reckons it was no more than Latics deserved for their overall display.
“We had to be patient, but I thought we deserved the win,” he assessed.
“We’d been playing well but, when you’re not winning games, frustration can kick in. We conceded another poor goal, and there have been a few too many of those this season.
“It became scrappy in that second half, but the lads’ desire to win the game was there and we’re heading in the right direction.
“I just think we’ve needed to be a bit more ruthless.
“We’ve spoken and worked in training about winning - winning in four-a-side games, and even winning in running.
“We’ve taken that into the game on Tuesday night, and we managed to get there.”
Perkins also hailed top scorer Grigg, who responded from the blow of being surprisingly left out of the starting line-up to come off the bench on the hour mark and win the game.
“I thought Will’s reaction when he came on was top-drawer,” Perkins acknowledged. “He could have maybe sulked around but he didn’t, and he got us the three points.
“To be successful in this league we’re going to need everyone.
“We had a great squad last year and we achieved our goals.
“Hopefully we can do likewise this year, but we’re going to need everyone to do that.”
Next up for Latics is Saturday’s testing trip down to Brentford, against a Bees side whose 4-1 midweek win over Reading lifted them up to fourth in the Championship.
“They’re a good team who like to pass the ball around, and the lad (Scott) Hogan up front is on fire at the moment,” recognised Perkins.
“We’ll be very respectful of that but, at the same time, we’ll be looking to win the game as well. We know our away form hasn’t been too great, and we need to look
“I don’t actually feel the performances have been that bad, it just shows how competitive this league is.
“You look at last year - our away form was second to none. I don’t think there’s a lack of confidence or belief going into the away games.
“I just think it’s been maybe a little bit of luck, or needing to be a little bit more clinical in both boxes to make a difference.
“You could say we’ve not scored enough goals, but if you don’t concede then you don’t lose - and we need to improve in that area as well.”