Warren Joyce insists he’ll be happy to stay in the shadows this weekend when Wigan Athletic try to spring a massive FA Cup shock at Manchester United.
Joyce ended a two decade-long association with United when he left to become Latics boss back in November.
And there was a certain inevitability when his reward for steering Latics through a third-round tie against Nottingham Forest was an instant return trip to Old Trafford.
Despite his obviously strong ties to United, Joyce does not want any of the limelight in the lead-up, and hopes his players do all the talking on Sunday.
“I don’t think this game is about me,” the Latics boss said. “It’s obviously a great day out for the fans, and a great opportunity for the players to play at an iconic stadium, pitting themselves against some of the top players in the world – and try and win a game.
“I don’t really think about it from my point of view. I might look back on it when I’m 65 or something, but that’s a long way off!”
Most of the squad will be tasting the Old Trafford atmosphere for the first time, but Joyce says last weekend’s league clash against Brentford – which Latics won 2-1 to extend their win streak to three matches – was just as big.
“I think the lads were probably more pumped up about the Brentford game, and get another big win under their belts,” Joyce added.
“It’s allowed them to dust themselves down, enjoy the moment and address the United game later in the week.”
l Defender Reece James and midfielder Alex Gilbey both took another huge step towards first-team returns by coming through yesterday’s reserve-team friendly against Barnsley unscathed.
James successfully came through 45 minutes, just over a year since his last competitive run-out for the first team in the 3-1 victory over Chesterfield – when he scored his only goal for the club.
He’s twice broken down on the way back from ankle ligament damage, but finally looks to be on the verge of a return.
“Great to be back on the pitch today, been a long frustrating 12 months,” he tweeted. “Onwards and upwards.”
Gilbey meanwhile has been out for over four months with an ankle problem of his own, but negotoated an hour as part of his own recovery.
“Great to see Alex and Reece in action,” tweeted chairman David Sharpe. “Been tough for them getting back to fitness but nice to see them back on the pitch.”