Celebrating turning 26-years-old on Monday came hand-in-hand with a first full game since December for Adrian Lopez, as Latics drew 1-1 at Robin Park against Barnsley.
The defender said he was more than happy to play on his birthday.
“It was great to play on Monday because it was my birthday and it was good to be doing the thing that I love which is playing football.
“It was a good game to be involved with and we performed well and I felt really good to just complete the 90 minutes.”
Lopez’s last full 90 minutes came against Queens Park Rangers on 8 December and a week later he picked up a hamstring injury against Norwich City, which saw him side lined until 26 January when he came on as a substitute in the FA Cup fourth round tie against Macclesfield Town.
After returning in that game, Lopez admitted he needed just a little bit more time to get to full strength.
“To play 90 minutes and get the rhythm and the fitness of playing a full game was a big positive for my progress.
“After the Macclesfield game my hamstring felt a little stiff again so it was best for me to have some treatment and regain my fitness patiently.
“I made a slide tackle against Macclesfield which was risky because of the nature of the injury I had but sometimes when you are injured you need to forget the feeling of being scared about getting injured again.
“For me that game was very good because I played and didn’t think about my hamstring, it was only after that I felt it a little bit tight.”
The defender’s focus now is to keep on working hard with the group, something which has been a positive for other injured players such as Antolin Alcaraz who returned from his long term injury last weekend as a substitute against Reading.
Lopez believes returning players can be a big boost.
“It’s good to be available again and it’s great that a lot of players are coming back from injuries because it means we have a lot of competition for places.
“It’s great for the team and the gaffer because if we need to change tactics slightly he has the options to do so, which hasn’t always been the case this season because of injuries.”
For himself he said:
“I have to keep training with the team now and maintain my fitness and just continue to improve in every area, so I am working very hard now.
“I feel I am ready to be available for selection now and I am looking forward to the challenge.”