McManaman to make timely return

Callum McManaman is desperate to lift Melbourne Victory off the bottom of the ladder after missing four games with an ankle injury.

FA Cup winner Callum McManaman feels he’s wanted, and more importantly, needed at Melbourne Victory, and that’s good news for the struggling A-League club.

The former Wigan, Blackpool, West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Luton winger makes his long-awaited return to the Victory team on Sunday against Newcastle at AAMI Park after missing the club’s past four matches with an ankle injury.

“Going to the games and only being able to watch has been frustrating,” McManaman said.

“I’ve been desperate to get involved and I’m glad to finally be back out there.”

It’s a feeling of joy that 29-year-old McManaman craves after losing his way since producing a man-of-the-match display in Wigan’s upset 1-0 win over Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final at Wembley.

“At the point I was flying,” he said.

“I thought my career was going to keep going up from there but it kind of never (did).

“That disappointed me a bit. I ended up moving to West Brom. I didn’t play as much as I’d like. It set me back a few years … it killed my confidence.”

“Now (that) I’m starting to feel like I’m wanted here, I’m needed here, I’m enjoying it.

“I feel like I’ve still got a lot prove. I feel as confident as ever now, and I feel hungry, and it’s all about getting more points on the table for us.”

The Victory are on the bottom of the A-League ladder with just four points from six matches.

It’s not good enough for the former competition heavyweights.

“Our fans expect us to win and that’s what we want, that’s what we need and that’s what we thrive off,” McManaman said.

“I’ve been at clubs like Sunderland where there’s 40,000 fans there every week. They expect to win every game as well so that’s the expectation the players have to deal with.”

Besieged Victory coach Grant Brebner said McManaman’s return was a huge boost for the four-time A-League champions.

“He is an explosive, attacking winger that just loves to go at fullbacks and loves to take them on,” Brebner said.

“He loves to deliver service into the box and can score a cracker as well.”

A Victory spokesman said that based on public health advice and delivering a COVID safe event, Sunday’s crowd at AAMI Park will be capped at 10,000.

Attendance will also be restricted to 10,000 when the Victory host Wellington Phoenix on Wednesday night at the same venue.

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