Goalkeeper describes a dream week and the test ahead on Thursday in the Europa League.
It’s been three games in six days for 21-year-old goalkeeper Lee Nicholls, who has been taking the plaudits as Latics have conceded just once with him between the sticks since his introduction after Scott Carson’s pre-match injury against Charlton Athletic.
The Latics bred stopper said he’s been enjoying every second of a dream come true.
“People always say it, but the last week really has been a dream come true.
“I haven’t had much time to think about things, but I was happy to be thrown in at the deep end and I’ve been doing well so far with the help of everyone in the team.”
There’s no doubt that last season’s full campaign on loan at Northampton Town has helped Nicholls’ development, and he added that he’s touched to have had messages of support from not just Latics fans, but Cobblers fans too.
“I’ve had a lot of messages on Twitter and people coming up to me where I live congratulating me on making it into the first team which has been really nice.
“A lot more people have been asking for autographs in the last couple of weeks so that’s something new, but our supporters have always been really friendly like that.
“I’ve had a lot of nice messages and letters to the club from Northampton fans as well, that’s been a really nice touch having been given a big chance there last season.”
With a trip to Rubin Kazan in the Europa League on the horizon, Nicholls took time to sum up his maiden three league games for Latics’, saying each game brought about a different challenge.
“The first half at Charlton proved difficult because they pushed forward a lot and the wind was very strong.
“I thought we did really well against QPR to control their threat and it made me feel relaxed that the defence were playing well enough to prevent too many chances.
“The last 20 minutes against Huddersfield were much different to both of those games because they made it really difficult for us and put a lot more pressure on us.
“The matches have been a good test and all three games have brought about different challenges.”
Yet another challenge could lie ahead for the former England Under 20 goalkeeper if he’s chosen to play on Thursday in Russia, something which Nicholls says he’s prepared for:
“It would be amazing to play in Europe for the club and it would keep adding to my recent achievements.
“If the gaffer chooses me again I won’t be treating the game any differently to the three previous league games.
“It’s another big stage, but I’ll prepare for it as I do every game and make sure that I’m focussed for the test we’re going up against.”
Commenting on the threat and experience of Rubin, Nicholls added:
“Rubin Kazan are a very good side especially when they play in the Europa League.
“You’ve only got to look at the past four years in the competition to see how well they can do.
“We know they’re going to be a threat going forward and they showed that when they came to the DW Stadium three weeks ago.
“Rubin have got some very good individual players who can hurt teams and they’ve got the ability to rotate their side around just like we have, so it’s going to be a case of being ready for anything.”
Having netted in their first three games of the group stage, Nicholls said he expects sides like Rubin to come into the Europa League with attacking pedigree:
“We expect that from all the teams we play in Europe though, because everybody has earned their place in this competition by being strong.
“Being ready and switched on at all times is going to be crucial for us because we know they’re very good at home in the Europa League as are all of the teams in the competition.”