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Play the game not the occasion - Wigan Athletic star

Darron Gibson
Darron Gibson

Darron Gibson is every bit as excited as anyone ahead of Wigan Athletic’s big derby at Preston this weekend.

But the former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder has been in the game long enough to remember a golden rule.

Play the game and not the occasion!

“I’ve been involved in a lot of derbies during my career,” Gibson told the Wigan Post.

“As a player, you’re aware of the importance and what it means to the supporters.

“But at the same time you’ve got to stay calm, stay focused, and concentrate on what we need to do.

“You can’t be letting the occasion get the better of you, no matter the temptation.”

Latics will make the short trip up the M6 in good spirits after the 0-0 draw against Swansea in midweek lifted them back up to within goal difference of the play-off places.

Their tally of 17 points from 11 matches sees them trail leaders Leeds United by only five points – and Gibson says it isn’t a false position.

“Looking back on the 11 games as a whole, we could have picked up more points – should have picked up more points,” he argued.

“But if you’d have said we’d have been in the position we are – having come up from League One last season – I think everyone would have snapped your hand off.

“You could probably argue if we had a little bit more experience in the camp we would have picked up a few points. But that will come.

“Most of the lads are new to this league – the players, the manager, his staff.

“It’s a tough, tough league to compete in, very tough.

“But I have to say the squad is dealing with it very well, and so is the manager and his staff.

“We’re seventh in the league and hopefully we can move back into the top six with a win on Saturday.”

Gibson is hoping to retain his place in the engine room for the Deepdale derby, having deputised for the injured Sam Morsy against Swansea.

“I enjoyed myself, it was good to be back on the pitch,” he acknowledged.

“It was a very tough game to come back in for to be fair, they moved the ball around very well.

“They’re not an easy team to play against to be fair.

“But I thought we played well, passed it well, and we looked strong on the whole defensively.

“I’d imagine it was a good game to watch for the neutral.

“A point’s a point at the end of the day, and it was probably a fair result.

“They probably missed two good chances in the first half, but we missed two great chances in the second half.

“But as the gaffer said after the game, points in this league are golden.

“And any time you can pick up even one point – at home or away – it’s never a bad thing.”

The 30-year-old is also relishing his position as one of the old heads in a relatively youthful squad.

“I’m obviously one of the senior players in the squad, with the most experience,” he added.

“So that does give me an extra part to play.”