Callum Elder will have a hat-trick of reasons to make his presence felt for Wigan Athletic in the fourth round of the FA Cup against West Ham this weekend.
Firstly, he’ll be aiming to build on his goalscoring display in the last round against Bournemouth and take another step towards Wembley.
Secondly, he’ll be hoping to give another nudge to boss Paul Cook about inclusion in the side for the promotion run-in.
Thirdly, it’s his 23rd birthday!
And with a World Cup coming up in the summer, he admits the ideal present would be his first senior cap for the Australian national side!
“I am in contact with the national team’s coaches, but I know I need to work hard and improving my game,” revealed Elder, who hails from Sydney, but who was snapped up by Leicester at the age of 16.
“It is a definite goal of mine though and I do believe one day I can achieve it.
“But all I’m thinking about at the moment is Wigan, and performing well for the rest of the season.
“We’ve put in place a really good framework to succeed, and I want to play a big part in that.
“I’m as driven as any other player in the squad, and we all want to achieve the same thing.
“I think the lads would be lying if they didn’t think we couldn’t achieve promotion this year.
“But we know we have to work hard to make sure we get that.”
Elder joined Latics last summer from Leicester on a season-long arrangement – the fifth loan of his short career to date.
A red card on his debut at MK Dons on the opening day denied him the chance to hit the ground, and Reece James has played the majority of the season at left-back.
Elder, though, says his time with Wigan has been every bit as beneficial as any of his previous loans.
“All loan spells are good for players whether they work out positively or negatively,” he recognised.
“I’ve enjoyed every loan I’ve been on, because they’ve helped me to mature as a player, and realise how much I love playing on a Saturday afternoon in front of thousands of fans.
“I want to grow and progress and play at the highest level that I can, so I’ve taken so much from my loans to be able to do just that.
“Obviously it was frustrating to get sent off on my debut, but football has a habit of throwing funny things at you.
“I had to get on with it, and work as hard as I could in training with the staff.
“There’s not just competition in my position – it’s across the whole squad.
“There’s plenty of talent that can come in if boys aren’t performing well or if injuries come about.
“There’s a collective belief in the changing room and the boys know that nobody’s shirt is safe, and that we all have to keep our foot down and work hard in training and on a matchday.
“I tried to keep on top of my fitness as much as I could when I wasn’t playing, but nothing beats playing games and getting that match fitness.
“It obviously helps coming in to a really talented squad, and the coaching staff are really working us hard in training.
“We all know our roles inside out both individually and collectively.
“I’m delighted to be back in the team, and just want to have a positive impact when I play.”