Callum Connolly aims to prove Wigan Athletic wrong on derby day

Callum Connolly
Callum Connolly

Callum Connolly returns to the DW Stadium with Bolton Wanderers aiming to make up for a ‘tough’ loan spell with Wigan Athletic over the first half of the season.

The 21-year-old was recalled by Everton in January, having failed to nail down a first-team spot with Latics, and sent straight to Bolton.

And he’s hoping to prove to Paul Cook and co what they missed by helping his new club to dent his old club’s survival hopes.

“It was up and down at Wigan,” Connolly acknowledged.

“I started off in the team and then was in and out, and it was tough to be honest, but that is football.

“I like to get in my stride by getting a run of games, but unfortunately, it couldn’t happen there.”

Meanwhile, Wanderers must beat Wigan if they are to have any chance of staying in the Championship.

At least that’s the view of assistant boss Steve Parkin, who wants his players to repeat the levels they showed last weekend when they saw off fellow strugglers Millwall in another six-pointer.

“It’s going to be a tight game, it’s a local derby, the fans will be willing us on, and we need to make sure the players play with the same intensity and energy they did against Millwall,” said Parkin.

“I think it’s a must-win. Everybody knows it’s a massively important game for both teams and, with the position we’re in, we really need to be looking to win the game.

“We need three points, and we’ve got to make sure we do anything and everything to get them.

“The players get up for the big games, and in general the commitment and effort of the players has been very good.

“If you look at the victory at Birmingham and the performances at Leeds and Millwall, we have had a consistently better level of performance over the last six or seven weeks, so we’ll definitely need to achieve that to get three points.”

Wigan are in desperate need of the points themselves, having slipped to fourth-bottom in midweek, out of the drop zone only on goal difference.

And Parkin says Paul Cook’s men will pose a threat to his side if they are allowed to rediscover their top form.

“I know Cooky well, he’s got good options with players he can bring off the bench in all positions,” Parkin said.

“Whether he’ll make any changes is entirely up to him, obviously, but the key is that we get back to where we were against Millwall.

“We’ve got a few niggly injury problems, which we’ll leave until we have a few fitness tests. So we’ve got our own things to be concerned about.”