- Shaun MacDonald discusses Latics’ match with Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon.
- Midfielder also looks ahead to Wales’ World Cup qualifier with the Republic of Ireland.
- Full interview in Saturday’s official match programme.
Wigan Athletic midfielder Shaun MacDonald says Saturday’s game against Aston Villa at the DW Stadium is exactly the sort of fixture Latics are in the Sky Bet Championship for.
Villa have sold out the away end at the DW and there is likely to be one of the biggest home crowds of the season too as former manager Steve Bruce brings his improving Villa side to Wigan.
And with nine games to go, MacDonald knows Latics have it all to do to stay up, though the incentive to do so is right in front of them.
“You want to test yourself as a player and you want to play against the best teams,” MacDonald told Latics’ official match programme.
“We have to win games to stay in this league and, though we need to continue to keep clean sheets, we have to create chances at the other end to score the goals that will add points to our tally.
“We know how big every game is, we don’t need to be told and we feel the pressure really is on us.
“We have to deal with that; we’re paid to handle that and give 100% in our performances.
“If you’re in this league, there is always the chance that you can go to the next level so we have to be positive, put in big performances, and give ourselves the opportunity to have a better go at the Championship next year.”
MacDonald is likely to come up against a number of familiar faces in Villa’s ranks on Saturday and he knows that Bruce’s side remain one of the strongest in the second tier.
“I know Tayls [Neil Taylor] from my Swansea days and playing for Wales at U21 and senior level too,” MacDonald explained.
“James Chester has more recently come into the Wales setup and is a great professional.
“There’s Tommy Elphick too who is a massive leader, the most successful captain at Bournemouth in their history and someone I spent a lot of my career with.
“When players of that quality are coming here, you know it will be a tough game.
“Villa have a good squad and a great manager but as I touched upon, it’s about focusing on ourselves and what we can do with our game plan to hurt them and give it a go.”
Shaun MacDonald and Villa's James Chester on Wales duty, with Joe Ledley. Credit: FA Wales
After Saturday’s game, MacDonald will head off with Wales for their crunch 2018 World Cup qualifier in Dublin against the Republic of Ireland.
And he says he says Chris Coleman’s side remain confident they can beat any team can come up against despite drawing their last three matches.
“There is pressure on every game at the minute – club and country,” he added.
“I’m excited for the occasion but firstly focused on the game with Aston Villa.
“It’s a great challenge for the nation, we believe we can pick up results against any team and Ireland will be no different.”
The full interview with Shaun MacDonald inside Saturday’s official match programme, available at the DW Stadium for £3 or online by clicking here.