Kilbane wrote in the Mail on Sunday: "I may be biased, as a player who fought relegation more than winning promotions or titles, but there’s a lot to be said for gaining experience under duress.
"It’s tough and stressful because you’re not winning, but builds character. You have to handle defeats and knockbacks, but still believe in your own ability and maintain consistency.
"James has done that, which is impressive at his age. Most 22-year-olds only have a handful of games so he’s a rare commodity in the modern game.
"His excellent performances at the heart of Wigan’s midfield, and comfortable step-up to international football, have caught the attention of Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool for the last two windows.
"It is typical of chairman Dave Whelan to keep his best players in January, and, if he is going to sell, arrange a deal which makes good money for Wigan in the summer and can be re-invested properly."