CALLUM McManaman admits he’s been a glutton for punishment during Wigan Athletic’s pre-season programme.
The 23-year-old is lapping up the gruelling fitness and conditioning work to ensure he’s fighting fit for when the Championship season gets under way on August 9.
This time last year McManaman was sidelined with an ankle problem picked up in the penultimate game of the previous campaign – the 4-1 defeat at Arsenal that confirmed Wigan’s relegation from the Premier League.
The injury caused him to miss a chunk of the pre-season work – as well as the European Under-21 Championships – which took a noticeable toll on him as the campaign progressed.
Having been Wigan’s star man in the closing weeks of 2012/13, he was only able to show patches of his undoubted quality last term with a succession of injury problems continuing to dog him.
This time round, however, McManaman is determined to lay the necessary foundations to enable him to get back to his best.
“I think the lack of a pre-season affected my whole season last year,” he told the Evening Post.
“You ask any player –if you miss pre-season it’s a massive blow. Even though it’s tough, you know it’s good for you.
“I just didn’t get the basic fitness that you get from the pre-season programme, and I was always playing catch-up.
“That led to me getting regular niggles throughout the year, and I just couldn’t put anything together.
“This time I’m determined to get a good pre-season under my belt, and hopefully I’ll be flying when the season starts for real.”
While McManaman is tearing into the training at Christopher Park, he admits the highlight of the pre-season schedule is the friendly matches, the latest of which sees Latics entertain Walsall tomorrow afternoon.
“You can’t beat playing matches – nothing comes close to it,” he enthused.
“The practice games will mostly be geared towards making sure our fitness is where it needs to be, but it will still great to get out there and get the match fitness up.”
Supporters are reminded that tomorrow’s game has been switched from the Leigh Sports Village and will now be played behind closed doors at the club’s Christopher Park training ground.
Refunds for the original fixture remain available from the DW Stadium.