WONDERKID Callum McManaman spoke of his desire to follow in the footsteps of Leighton Baines after marking his first Latics start in style.
The 19-year-old enjoyed a dream debut in the 3-1 victory at Hull in the FA Cup on Saturday, capping a man-of-the-match display with a super goal that put Latics two up and all-but secured victory.
McManaman didn’t get his wish for a clash with his boyhood heroes Everton in yesterday’s fourth-round draw, Latics instead being handed the short trip to Bolton at the end of the month. But he is determined to emulate the Goodison side’s England left-back, who was the last player to emerge from the Wigan youth set-up and establish himself as a Premier League star.
“No-one’s come through here since Baynesey, and the idea of following in his footsteps is great,” McManaman told the Evening Post.
“The gaffer only told me 90 minutes before the game that I’d be playing, and I was made up when I saw my name in the starting line-up.
“It was just a dream come true. I was thinking the night before what it might be like to play, and when I scored I just couldn’t believe it.
“You can see that the gaffer likes to give youngsters a chance, and hopefully I’ve done enough to give him something to think about.”
McManaman admits he was helped to find his feet in the big time by the presence of so many of his reserve-team colleagues, with Roberto Martinez handing debuts to four other youngsters including new signing Adrian Lopez.
“It was great to see Danny Redmond, Jordan Mustoe and Jordan Robinson out there as well,” he added.
“We’ve all been doing well for the reserves and it was great to get our chance.
“The experienced lads were helping us all before the game and after we’d kicked off, always giving us confidence, and that’s what you need when you’re making your first start.
“It is a big step up from the reserves but you just have to try and take it all in your stride. Hopefully I can kick on now and make sure this is the start of something.”
McManaman’s big moment came just before the hour mark, a mazy run from the left-hand side culminating in a cool finish just inside the far post.
“I don’t even remember my goal to be honest. It’s all been such a blur and it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” McManaman added.
“But I’m made up with my goal, made up we won and made up we’re in the next round.
“The FA Cup is a great competition, every young lad dreams of playing in it and getting through to Wembley. And I’m no different.”
Wigan’s reward for their victory is a trip to the Reebok on the weekend of January 29-30.
Meanwhile, Arsenal will face a tough third-round replay at Leeds just 72 hours before hosting Latics in the Premier League on January 22.