Wigan Athletic guest column - Nathan Byrne

Nathan Byrne
Nathan Byrne

The lads are hoping to get back to winning ways at Ipswich this weekend, and get the loss to Derby out of our system.

I actually thought we were the better side for most of the game against Derby and very unfortunate not to get something.

The sending-off, so early, just changed the game completely.

The next few minutes is hanging on, trying to stay in the game and reorganising what you’re doing, which is how it played out.

Sometimes you just don’t get the bounce of the ball, but you’ve got to move on to the next game as quickly as possible.

The manager told us after the game he couldn’t have asked any more from us, and I think he was right.

After the sending-off I dropped in to left back, and thankfully I managed to clear one off the line just after they scored.

I obviously haven’t played full-back since last season, but I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

I’ve said before I don’t enjoy the parts of playing full-back when you have to sit at home and defend.

The great thing about last season was the manager giving me licence to get forward as much as I could and do what I wanted.

Obviously he knows what kind of player I am and how much I like to get forward.

And I think that’s helped me to slot into the more advanced position I’ve been playing this term.

But as long as I’m in the team, it doesn’t really matter where I’m playing to be honest.

Reece James has come in this year and made the right-back position his own and I’m pleased for him.

He’s obviously a great player – he’s done ever so well since he’s been here.

I think everyone can see the quality he has, and I’m sure he’ll go on to play at an even higher level before too long.

He really is that good, and he’s only turned 19, which means there’s plenty of time and scope for him to get even better.

Me and him also get on really well both on and off the field, which is nice.

He’s come to me for help and advice, which is great for me to be able to pass on.

I’ve been that young lad, when you’re just trying to fit into a dressing room.

You’ve come into a building on loan, you don’t know anyone, and you’re looking to settle in as well as you can.

I know I wanted people to come up to me and talk to me, and help me to settle in.

Fortunately Reece has been able to do that and you can see with his performances how happy he is here.

As as group, we’re definitely in a better place than we were two years ago.

I came into the dressing room at the beginning of that season, and it was quite a hard time.

Going down to League One, the gaffer changed it a lot and – for the better.

He’s got us all together, and now it’s probably the best dressing room I’ve ever been in, in terms of the lads being as one.

We all want the same thing, we’re all driving each other on – even the lads who aren’t in the team every week.

That means the players who do come in are ready to take their chance to impress, and that helps the competition for places.

We’re coming into the Christmas period now, and it’s a busy time of the year with plenty of matches.

Obviously as a footballer you can’t enjoy it as much as the fans, with the food and the wine at meal times!

But there’s plenty of time to enjoy that sort of thing when you’re retired, it’s not difficult to stay focused on the job ahead.

The games come thick and fast over Christmas and, if you can put together a little run, you can move up the table very quickly.

This league is so tight, so competitive, that the table can look very different this time next month.

We all believe we’re not far away from where we want to be.

We’ve maybe lacked that cutting edge or the bounce of a ball in recent weeks, but it’s something we think will come.