Kirkland said: “I had to get out. The writing was on the wall when Mr Benitez came. I struggled with training and bits and bobs like that. That’s just football.
“He put me in the team when I was carrying a back injury that needed an operation and I was out for six months.
“After that he bought a new keeper and that was that. There have been tough times but I’m happy now and I love playing for Wigan. I wanted to stay up north and Paul Jewell was great and at Wigan I liked what I saw.
“It was always the intention to sign by Christmas if I stayed fit but they came to me during the week and with my agent we all decided it was best to get it out of the way.
“It’s a weight off my shoulders now. I am a Wigan player and nothing can change that.”