Roger Espinoza’s performances in a Wigan Athletic shirt have been full of endurance and endeavour, something which will come as no surprise for fans of Sporting Kansas City and the Honduras national team.
The 26-year-old believes that athleticism has been a big part in his transition from the MLS to the Barclays Premier League, explaining:
“I’ve always had the engine that I’ve got and I guess I was given a gift to have a lot of endurance when I play,” said Espinoza.
“That’s a great tool to have when you come to England because even though I still have to adjust to certain things in the English game, I have that fitness which is a big part of the formula.”
As a vital part of the midfield Espinoza said that he can put his engine to good use in the style that the team plays.
“I worked on my fitness a lot before I came to Wigan Athletic and I just try to put myself about the pitch a lot and if we lose the ball I’ll try to regain it as quick as possible.
“In our team we love to keep the ball but for us to do that right we have to win it back quickly when we lose it.
“I’ve got to adapt to things that are done a little differently but mainly I haven’t changed as a player and I think that’s why the gaffer wanted me to come here.”
Although explaining that the physical aspects of the MLS and the Premier League are very similar, the Honduras international said the pressure of relegation is the one major change for him.
“I suppose one real difference is that in England there is relegation and in the USA there isn’t which I think demands more from the team because everything is on the line.
“The pressure is a lot higher over here and that’s the reason I came here because as a footballer I thrive on that.”
Espinoza will face that pressure this weekend when Latics travel to the Madejski Stadium to face Reading.
Just before he came over to the club for his medical ahead of his January move, the midfielder recalls the tales he was told about the November 3-2 win against the Royals.
“A couple of weeks after Jordi scored his hat trick in the last game against Reading I was over here to do my medical and I was told all about how great of a moment it was, especially scoring his third to win it in the last minute.”
Despite being impressed by the manner of the victory, Espinoza said things have changed since that game and believes Latics will face an improved Reading on Saturday.
“Reading are doing much better now and have got a lot tougher so we’re going to be facing a real test.
“It’s not just Reading but all the teams near the bottom and we saw that when we played Southampton, it’s our job now to match that and try to be better than them until the end of the season.
“This weekend we need to remember those three goals that Jordi scored and examine how we hurt them in the way we did back in November.”
On the free-scoring nature of the previous encounter Espinoza said:
“Hopefully we can be as effective going forward but keep tight when it comes to defending and it’s the job of the whole team to stop them from creating chances because they have been taking almost every chance they’ve got recently.
“There’s something about them and they have the instinct for scoring even if they don’t create as many chances as their opponents.
“We are going to have to step our game up even more and be ready in every way because this is going to be a really big game for us.”