McNaughton delighted to be on the comeback trail.
- Kevin McNaughton discusses his return from injury.
- Defender featured for second consecutive match against Burnley.
- “It’s just great to be back playing to be honest.” – Kevin McNaughton.
The injury, picked up in Latics’ Sky Bet League One trip to Gillingham, was a real cause of frustration for the 33-year-old who had been looking forward to launching his time at the club with a run in the team, but now he’s back playing, he says things are looking up.
“I felt good, much better than my first match back last week,” began McNaughton after Latics’ 2-0 win against Burnley yesterday.
“I’ve been training for about a month now and I feel good.
“It’ll be good to keep playing, and I’m hoping to be back available for first team selection soon, so the hard work has to continue to get back in the squad.
“It’s just great to be back playing to be honest. Some footballers go into reserve games and don’t look forward to them, but I’ve been buzzing to get back into it, these last two games have been really enjoyable.”
McNaughton said he’s received a great level of support through a difficult time, and added that he had some responsibility in making it work both ways at a club that welcomed him in the summer.
“It’s been tough, especially after breaking my leg last year, but more so because I wanted to make an impression here having only joined in the summer.
“Everybody has been good to me since I walked into the club, and I’ve had support from our fans, the boys in the dressing room and fans from Cardiff City through the injury, which has been very encouraging and has kept me going.
“As I’ve got older I’ve wanted to play more. I’ve started to appreciate things a lot more, so to just be back out playing matches at the training ground has been long-awaited.
“There’s nothing worse than if you’ve got guys who aren’t playing and they’re a bad influence on the rest of the squad, and I’ve been at clubs where that’s happened.
“I’ve been knuckling down, working hard and keeping positive around the place. After the first month when my head was in the clouds a bit, I started to feel positive and use my experience to help the younger lads.”
Experience which he hopes can help towards Latics’ aims this season. McNaughton continued:
“I’ve been in situations like the lads have been in this season, pushing for promotion, and when we’ve had our little set-backs in the league I’ve just tried to offer bits of advice.
“It’s worked both ways because they’ve been good to me and kept on encouraging me, which makes it good to feel part of the group even when you’re injured.
“It would be nice to come back into the team and us still be unbeaten in the league. The team seems to have got better as the season has progressed, especially when you compare it to those first five or six matches.”
Watching on from the stands as Latics drew 0-0 with Oldham Athletic on Saturday, McNaughton says knowing this group of players the performance will only encourage the team to bounce back.
“Saturday is probably the first time the lads have been disappointed with the performance in quite a while, but it’s all about how they bounce back against Walsall.
“When results like the draw to Oldham have happened in the past we’ve had good reactions, and I’ve no doubt that’ll be the aim this weekend.
“I’ve been impressed with the boys’ ability to do that all season, their work rate and attitude has been superb. I’ve not seen a squad working this hard for each other since I won promotion with Cardiff.”
- REPORT: Read all about Latics' 2-0 victory over Burnley.
- PROFILES: Learn more about Latics' Development Squad.
- FIXTURES: See the remaining schedule for the season.