Callum McManaman is hoping the pressure-cooker situation of a derby against Bolton can bring out the best in Wigan Athletic tonight.
Latics make the short trip to the Macron Stadium to face a Bolton side who still remain in the bottom three but who have picked up under new boss Neil Lennon.
In contrast, Latics have won just once in the last 11 matches – at Derby last month – and have slipped to just a point clear of the drop zone.
With local pride also up for grabs, the stakes could not be higher heading into the game, which McManaman hopes will inspire Latics on to produce their best football.
“It’s a massive game for the fans and the lads as well,” he told the Evening Post.
“It’s a derby game and we can’t wait to get out there and show what we can do.
“This week, because we had a game in midweek, it maybe hasn’t had the build-up it would usually have.
“But since Wednesday we’ve been fully focused on what we need to do.
“It’s a massive game, especially with the Sky cameras being in town, and everyone’s looking forward to it.”
McManaman has plenty of previous in this fixture, particularly last season.
He was brought down for a last-minute penalty in the fixture at the Reebok, only for Jordi Gomez to fail to win the game for the visitors after seeing his spot-kick saved.
In the home game, McManaman settled a five-goal thriller with the vital winning goal in the last quarter, to give Uwe Rosler his first victory as Latics chief.
“It was gutting the way the game at their place ended last year, I really thought we’d won it at the end,” McManaman acknowledged.
“But we did manage to beat them here at the DW earlier in the season, that was another cracking game.
“I managed to get the winner in that game and hopefully we can do it again.”
Trotters boss Lennon has identified McManaman as the man to stop as far as his side are concerned.
And the 23-year-old admits he thrives on the expectation surrounding big matches.
“I love playing in the big games, I’ve always said that,” he added.
“You’d much rather be playing in the games with the pressure riding on you to perform, that’s what brings out the best in you.”
And despite Wigan’s struggles this term, McManaman feels they need to look no further than their recent triumph at Derby as inspiration to turn their season around.
“We beat Derby last week when they were top of the league,” McManaman said.
“Everyone had written us off, no-one expected us to win but we did.
“And I can’t see any reason why we can’t go to Bolton and pull off a similar result and get a good run going.
“I thought we were the better team for most of the game at Brighton, we just couldn’t put the ball in the net.
“Hopefully that will change at Bolton, and we’ll need the fans behind us from the off to do that.
“They’ve always been brilliant with us, and they’ll play a big role in us getting anything from Bolton.”