JC ready for promotion battle

Last Saturday evening, the last place on Earth Jack Collison wanted to be was Wembley.

The West Ham United loanee had missed a penalty in Wigan Athletic's shootout defeat by Arsenal in the FA Cup with Budweiser semi-final, ending the Latics' amazing attempt to retain the trophy.

Fast forward a few days and Collison wants nothing more than to return to the Home of Football, with Wigan continuing their quest for a Championship Play-Off final place when they take on rivals Reading on Good Friday.

"It's been great for me to be playing football after what has been a frustrating time for me this season," said the midfielder, who was back at Chadwell Heath for a flying visit this week. "I'm happy to be playing, Wigan are doing really well and flying in the league and looking to get into the Play-Offs now.

"It's a fantastic squad at Wigan with a lot of players who have played in the Premier League already, as well as some very good youngsters like Nick Powell and Josh McEachran who are looking to make a name for themselves as well.

"For me, it's been fantastic to go in, add a little bit of experience and a bit of quality, if I can.

"They have got a massive squad, but with there being so many games in the Championship and with them having been in the Europa League and had a good run in the FA Cup, we have had games every two or three days so I've played seven or eight times already. For me, it's been fantastic."

Many West Ham fans became Wigan supporters for a few hours last weekend, when Collison appeared for the Latics in their 1-1 draw with Arsenal, only to see his shootout penalty saved by Lukas Fabianski.

Having now experienced the elation of promotion in May 2012 and the deflation of Saturday's defeat, the Wales international wants to return to Wembley for a third time next month.

"It was always going to be tricky against Arsenal because they are always going to get their chances as they have such quality players. Obviously, the boys were fantastic and we got them to a penalty shootout and it's a lottery.

"From a personal point of view, I was gutted to miss, but hopefully we'll be back there in a month or so in the Play-Off final. People say it takes a lot of bottle to get up there and take one, but there was no way I was going to let the opportunity go - it's one of those things, I caught it well but the 'keeper read me and made a good save.

"It was a great experience to play in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in front of 80,000 people. It was a big thing, but at the end of the day it wasn't to be."

Collison is just the man you need for a Play-Off challenge, having played a massive part in West Ham's own promotion two seasons ago. Wigan sit fifth in the table ahead of Friday's clash with sixth-placed Reading at the DW Stadium, and the midfielder is determined to repeat the feat.

"I finally found my shooting boots for West Ham towards the end of that season, so hopefully I can do the same for Wigan. If there is any way I can help them to get up into the Premier League, I will, because obviously that is the ultimate goal."