Antonee Robinson insists there can’t, and won’t, be any question of split loyalties this weekend – despite the Wigan Athletic defender having every sympathy for the goings-on at his former club Bolton.
The on-loan Everton defender spent last term with the Wanderers, helping them to secure their Championship status in dramatic fashion on the final day.
Bolton could well require similar heroics this term, after spending much of the campaign in the mire.
But with Latics having gradually tumbled from third spot in the table in late September to a seasonal low of fourth bottom at present, Robinson and his team-mates badly need a result themselves to keep their own heads above water.
“There won’t be any question of split loyalties on the day, not at all!” Robinson told the Wigan Post.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot of quality in the team, and we’ll be able to beat them.
“But anything can happen in this league, and we’ll see what happens on the day.”
Robinson has looked on with the same incredulity as everyone else as Bolton’s off-field dramas have overshadowed matters on the field.
“Everyone knows Bolton have had a really tough season,” the American international recognised.
“Obviously there’s been a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes, everyone knows about it, and it’s unfortunate.
“They’ve got a great set of lads, quite a few I know from last year, plus some lads I know from Everton who are on loan.
“They’re all doing their best while all this is going on, and I wish them all the best and hope it works out.
“It’s just a really strange situation, and you really feel for all the staff as well.
“Good people are working hard to keep the club going and they’re not being paid.
“Hopefully it gets resolved and the club gets back to where it should be very soon.”
Robinson is particularly looking forward to going up against Callum Connolly, who spent the first half of the season on loan with Latics from Everton, before being recalled on deadline day in January to join the Wanderers.
“I’m really looking forward to playing against Cal, and the rest of the lads I know to be fair,” acknowledged Robinson, whose return at Reading last weekend ended four months of injury woe following ankle surgery.
“But him and Joe Williams – who I know from Everton – especially, it’ll be nice to face each other on Saturday.
“Cal and Joe helped to keep my spirits up over the last few months while I was injured and I really appreciated that.
“It was hard. As a player you just want to play football, not sit on the bench, not being involved.
“Once I got over the injury it was about training hard and keeping my head down.
“I had a few friendlies, Under-23s games, to get my fitness up, so when I got the chance I’d be ready.”
As if Robinson needed any added motivation, he admits he had the opportunity to return for a second loan at Bolton this term – but turned it down in favour of joining Wigan.
“I’m really happy I came here instead,” he added.
“I could have gone back to Bolton and I probably would have played as well.
“But I just thought this was a chance for a fresh challenge, Wigan would be a better style of football, something new to try.
“Everyone I spoke to – parents, agent, people at Everton – thought Wigan was a better move for me.
“I’m really glad I came here, I’m really enjoying my time.”