FOOTBALL NEWS

24/12/2011 08:00, Report by Steve Bartram

Valencia's soft spot

Antonio Valencia admits Wigan Athletic, United's visitors on Boxing Day, remain a club close to his heart.

The Ecuadorian left the DW Stadium in the summer of 2009 in order to move to Old Trafford, but still keeps an eye out for the fortunes of the Latics, who brought him to England from Spain's Villarreal.

"They'll always have a special place in my heart," Antonio told United Review. "I came here from abroad and I was taken in as one of the family from the first day.

"It was a real special group of players that we had in those few seasons there, and it was great to be a part of. I have only have gratitude and fond memories of my time there. I still speak regularly with Maynor Figueroa, who is a close friend of mine.

"I do look out for their scores. I know at the minute they’re by no means out of danger, but they’re working hard and they’ve picked up some decent results recently and let’s hope they can get up there and be fighting for ninth or tenth place."

However, Valencia scored in his only previous Old Trafford meeting with his former employers in 2010, and recognises that there is no room for sentiment as United bid to retain the Barclays Premier League title.

"Of course not," he said. "We’re professionals and we know that all that goes out of the window and the result is the main thing. The main thing is that United keep on picking up points and building momentum."

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