McArthur backs McManaman to save Wigan

Wigan Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur:  Callum McManaman
Wigan Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur: Callum McManaman

JAMES McArthur reckons Callum McManaman can be Wigan Athletic’s ace in the pack in the crucial relegation run-in.

McManaman was very nearly Wigan’s matchwinner on Saturday, before a last-gasp own goal from Emmerson Boyce gave Spurs a point they hardly deserved.

After falling behind to a freak goal from Gareth Bale, Latics immediately levelled through Boyce before McManaman lashed a beauty past Hugo Lloris for his first Premier League goal.

And McArthur says there’s plenty more to come from the young forward.

“His goal was excellent - not only for the team, but for Callum as well,” acknowledged McArthur.

“He’s really lighting up the Premier League now - he’s been a great addition.

“As soon as his shot left his foot, it was in all the way. To generate that much power with his weaker foot as well shows you how much confidence he has that he’s cut inside and do that. Hopefully he can keep doing that between now and the end of the season.”

It’s been an eventful few weeks for McManaman, who has scored in Wigan’s last three FA Cup ties to help them to the final, while also hitting the headlines for his over-zealous challenge on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara.

“He’s a strong character,” McArthur revealed. “A lot of bad things have been said about him but, at the end of the day, it was a challenge he made to try and win the ball.

“He’s not like that, he’s not that type of person. He’s a winner, but he would never intentionally hurt somebody.

“As for dealing with it, he’s doing his talking on the field - and that’s the most important thing.”

McArthur also felt Wigan’s overall performance showed they have what it takes to pull off another Great Escape and extend their top-flight stay into a ninth campaign.

“We feel like we played really well again,” he added.

“We limited them to not many chances, we had a few ourselves, and our game-plan really worked until we conceded right at the end.

“We showed great character, and I think the fans really helped us. I thought they were excellent.

“We came back from 1-0 down to lead 2-1, and on another day we could have won the game 3-1 or 4-1.

“There’s no fear. I think if you look at the way we played, we caught them on the counter a lot.

“We were really going for three points and we tried to do whatever it took to get the three points.

“It’s still in our own hands. We need to try and win our last four games.

“We’ve got an FA Cup final to look forward to as well, so we’re all switched on for the rest of the season.”