Games were few and far between for Tom James at Hibs – but now he’s enjoying regular minutes in Wigan’s League One campaign.
The Welsh defender moved to Easter Road last summer, brought to the club by Paul Heckingbottom. Whilst he did feature consistently under the former Leeds United boss, action under Jack Ross has been restricted.
A summer move is what James felt he needed to get motoring again and Wigan Athletic picked him up on a six-month loan deal. Whilst it was a quick turnaround, it’s something the Welshman is thankful for.
“At the start of the season I wasn’t really getting a look-in at Hibs for whatever reason,” James told NTOF. “I wasn’t in the team or on the bench so I was always looking to get out and play again if it was the right place.
“As soon as Wigan made themselves known it was going to be easy for me to say yes. I drove down the day after I knew and played on the Saturday. I’ve played almost all the games and I’m pretty happy. We just need to start getting results now.
“It was a bit strange as Hibs had played four or five games before I came here. It was a different start to the season than what I’m used to. I’m contracted here until January and then we’ll see what happens after that.
“Wigan were doing really well in the Championship last season but things off the park have had them come down to League One. You can see all around the training ground and stadium that they are proud of their history. It’s cool to be part of two big clubs.”
Making the Hibs switch
Whilst his season at Easter Road last term didn’t all go James’ way, it’s not something he regrets. The chance to step up from Yeovil Town to a big club like Hibs was an opportunity too good not to try.
He didn’t know all that much about Hibs’ history but a quick YouTube search took him to last minute headers and ecstatic scenes. Immediately he knew this was a massive team.
Now he’s part of two for the moment, Wigan falling on hard times in recent seasons as financial issues hit the former Premier League club hard. James has opened up on the size of both his clubs and initial Hibs transfer.
“I really enjoyed it when I was playing up at Hibs,” explained James. “Things happen, opinions, change, so the fact I get to come to Wigan and play in an unbelievable stadium with great training facilities, I’m lucky to do that.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about Scottish football. I knew some of the clubs like Aberdeen, Hibs, Celtic and Rangers, but I didn’t know much of the history. So I looked it up and seen all the Scottish Cup stuff on YouTube, David Gray’s goal.
“When I came up and met the manager at the time and staff, they put me through a PowerPoint and things like that. You really do get an idea of how big it is.
“I love Edinburgh, living in Leith outside the city centre. It was very different without the Fringe and so much to do this year, but I’ve now moved down to Manchester. So hopefully when all that’s going on clears I’ll be able to experience a new city.
“I got on really well with Paul Heckingbottom. He was the one who brought me up here but unfortunately it never went to plan. He brought in a few of us and you look at Christian Doidge, he’s flying.
“He’s probably one of the first names on the teamsheet, I still speak to him most days now. It’s not worked out quite as well for me but for players like Doidgey and Joe Newell are doing really well now.”
What does the future hold?
Decisions will have to be made very soon. James’ loan move is up in a couple of months time and he is aware of that. For now he’s happy to be in Wigan, however long that may be, commenting on why he had to make the move in the first place.
“It probably stemmed from last season,” the Welshman said. “I was involved in squads but I wasn’t playing, I think I played twice after Jack Ross took over. It was always in the back of my mind that I would need to think about moving on at the start of this season. I came back for pre-season and it was a similar story.
“I was talking to my agent and family about what I could do. Then on a Wednesday night at around 9PM I got the call from Wigan and I was down the next day. I’m lucky it wasn’t a stressful, long process to get out. In that sense it was good.
“I’ve not thought about it too much, I just try and focus on the immediate future. But if I’m playing here, the manager is happy here, then I would be happy enough to keep doing what I’m doing and getting as many games as possible. Before I came down the Hibs defence was unreal, I think it shows.
“Three players have got Scotland call-ups so it proves they are players that should be playing every week and fair play to them.”