DONALD Love is looking forward to making his presence felt over the Christmas period – for the first time as a first-team footballer.
The 21-year-old, on loan from Manchester United, has never been more than an interested fan for the festive fixtures.
But now he’s hoping for a key role as Wigan Athletic aim to get back to winning ways at Barnsley tomorrow.
“I’ve never been involved in the festive period as a player, this will be the first time,” he told the Evening Post.
“Before now I’ve always been involved in reserve-team junior football, and on Boxing Day I’ve either been out watching a game or watching at home.
“It’ll be good to be playing this time round, but I don’t mind. I’d much rather be involved than watching the results come in.”
Love made a welcome return to the Latics side last weekend after a thigh strain, but was unable to prevent the side slipping to a 1-0 home defeat to Blackpool.
“I was struggling a bit with cramp at the end, but the injury feels fine,” he revealed.
“I wasn’t really expecting to play, but it was good to be back in there and coming through unscathed.
“It was a shame the result didn’t go our way – it was one of those games where, if we played it 10 times we’d have won nine of them.
“Them scoring first helped them because they could then sit back and defend their lead.
“We were all right until we got to the final third, and we just couldn’t create anything.”
The setback against the Seasiders was Wigan’s third in a row on home soil.
And Love believes tomorrow’s trip to Oakwell could be exactly what Latics need to rediscover the winning habit. “Teams have been coming to the DW determined not to be broken down, and it’s up to us to start creating a bit more,” he added.
“In some way it’ll help us being away this weekend, because Barnsley will have to come at us as the home team.
“That in turn will allow us to hopefully hit them on the counter-attack, with the speed we have in the team.
“If we can pick up three points this weekend I’m sure it can kick us off on a run.
“There’s so many games in such a short space of time, and if we can pick up a few wins we can close the gap on the teams above us.
“Everyone knows we’re a good team and, once things click, we’ll be fine.
“The teams at the top will always be aware of us, no matter how many points we are behind.
“They’ll be more scared of us than we are of them and we need to take advantage.”