Connolly: Portman Road's a Great Place to Play Football
Friday, 14th Dec 2018 10:57
Former Blues loanee Callum Connolly says he’s looking forward to seeing some familiar faces when he returns to Portman Road with Wigan tomorrow. Connolly, 21, spent last season on loan at Town from Everton and is with the Latics on the same basis during this campaign.
"I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of the lads I played with last season and Portman Road is a great place to play football,” Connolly, who made 30 starts and five sub appearances for the Blues, scoring four times, told Wigan’s official Latics Listen podcast, which also features ex-Blues boss Joe Royle and former midfielder Neill Rimmer.
"I had a great season there last season, but things have started to change since then. There was a change in manager over the summer and then again during this season, so that's always going to be difficult, especially when different managers want to play different players.
"Five or six players came in and it's proved difficult for them to adapt. They found it really tough at the start, but I actually think they're finding their feet under Paul Lambert and I don't think it will be long until they start to catch up with the pack of teams above them."
Reflecting on Town’s current position, Connolly added: "There's a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the team at the bottom of the league at any stage in the season, but they tend to play with freedom because they know there's only one way they can go.
"We've played QPR and Preston at times when they were both really struggling. At the time those results really hurt us and the supporters, but we use them to learn and we definitely approach games with a better mentality now.
"As long as we approach games 100 per cent committed, we're confident we'll pick up results. You can't expect to win games in this division, you have to earn it.”
Connolly has made six starts and nine sub appearances for the Latics and has come off the bench in the last three matches. Having joined the Blues last summer as a full-back or centre-half, he was moved into central midfield by Mick McCarthy and he now sees that as the role he wants to play.
"I've enjoyed coming on in the last few games,” he continued. “It's been tough being in and out of the side because everyone wants to play in every game, but I feel like I'm ready to come on and help the team whenever the gaffer needs me.
"The Reading game [at home which ended 0-0] was massive for us because we lost four games in a row and needed to change our run of results.
"We know we should have got all three points that day, but in the last 10 minutes or so the game was becoming stretched and we knew we needed to avoid getting beat again.
"The gaffer wanted to shore things up and add legs to the midfield and I feel like I came on and did the job well.
"It was completely different against Derby [last week, also at home, when they lost 1-0], but the manager made the perfect tactical decision. The formation really worked for us with 10 men. We did very well in the second half and we had chances.
"I've not played on the right of a back three very often, but it was enjoyable and I feel like I did well.
"At first we were called upon to defend for quite a big spell, but we quickly had a composed shape about us and we were arguably the better side over the course of the 90 minutes.
"I've played in a number of positions throughout my career so far and I've been happy to play in defence, midfield or even further forward.
"My main aim is to play in midfield, but if the gaffer wants me to play at the back then I'll definitely put a shift in for the team."
Connolly is one of four ex-Blues who could be in the Latics squad tomorrow along with striker Joe Garner, winger Gary Roberts and defender Alex Bruce.
Also making the trip to Suffolk with the Latics will be former boss Joe Royle, now a Wigan director, and goalkeeper-coach Nick Colgan, who had a short spell as a player with the Blues under Jim Magilton without making a senior appearance.
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