When you’ve been at Aston Villa since the age of eight, you can expect a heated response from fans of Birmingham City and a pretty warm one for fans of the other side of the second city.
The 21-year-old has settled in well after making his previous loan moves to PR1 permanent during the off season, looking a threat both as an out and out forward and down the wing, but he acknowledges that he has been thoroughly looking forward to this weekend’s game.
“When I left Villa it was obviously the first game I looked for on the fixture list and it wasn’t too long or too far away,” he told The One And Only matchday programme. “It’s been on my mind, but hopefully we can get a result against them and I will be really happy with that.
“I was there from eight-years-old, I have been through a lot of coaches; some are still there and some have left and a lot of players have come and gone during the 13 years I was there. I was grateful for the opportunity with the likes of Tony McAndrew and Kevin McDonald who developed me into a good player and got me into the first team with Aston Villa in the Premier League.
“I am looking forward to it and I am grateful for the help they have given to me. They helped develop me into the player I am today and I am learning other things here. I was there for a long time and it was obviously going to be a big game for me.
“It’s going to be a bit of an emotional day against Villa and my mum and dad have been there from the very start.
“Back then they made the decision to take me from Northampton to Villa three times a week, so it’ll be a big day for them as well.
“I have about ten to 15 people coming, my friends are coming up because they know how much it means to me and obviously my parents who were the key to me getting where I am and they themselves know a lot of the staff and players there as well.
“It’s going to be a very big day and hopefully we can get a result and win and make it an enjoyable day.”
The Northampton-born forward made the decision to move to Deepdale believing that the coaching staff he has worked with before will further improve his game and the management and fans are already seeing a player who seems full of confidence and a threat to opposition defences.
“I’ve always known that the gaffer here, the coaching staff and the lads were going to help me,” he continued. “They did it in the three loan spells I was here for. If you look at it the last two, three years I have been here and that’s helped me a lot.
“I’m getting my house sorted, where I can settle and I haven’t been able to have that for the last two years.
“I’m definitely improving each day and I have been working really hard to get myself into the team because there are some really good players here and it’s a good squad.
“I know what I have to do and the results have been good and then bad, but on a personal note I have been happy with the start I have had. Hopefully I can continue to do the best I can and I think I am only going to get better with the right people around me developing me.
“The gaffer said a few weeks ago that with me and Aiden [McGeady] we have the players who can bring the ball up the pitch, be creative, commit men and maybe even roll it off to someone else.
“We’ve spoken about it and to be fair the Barnsley and Cardiff games I thought it really did work and for the Brentford game I thought we still posed a threat that way.
“It’s obviously a bit annoying with that result, but I still thought we were a threat. I am really really happy with the start I have had and the gaffer wants me to carry the ball forward and be positive every time I get it. He’s been helping me and that’s what I have tried to do.”
You can read plenty more from Callum, plus features with fellow former Villain Daniel Johnson, Greg Cunningham, Bailey Wright, Jordan Hugill, Chris Maxwell, Paul Gallagher and a chat with former PNE youth player and Villa European Cup winner Tony Morley.
There’s also all our regular features and plenty on our opponents, who are visiting for the first time since 1974 in the 100-page edition of The One And Only. The programme will be on sale from Friday afternoon from the Sir Tom Finney Stand ticket office or from sellers inside and outside the ground on matchday.