EMMERSON Boyce has targeted three points against Manchester United – to ‘drag’ a few more teams into the relegation battle.
The Wigan right-back is fighting to prove his fitness for Saturday’s game after suffering a recurrence of the hamstring injury that sidelined him for two months earlier this term.
Having tasted defeat six times already in this fixture, Boyce is desperate to help Latics pick up a first-ever victory over United at the 13th attempt. Not only would the three points give Latics a massive boost in their fight against the drop, it would also crank up the pressure on a few teams in the relative safety of mid-table.
Boyce told the Evening Post: “You just have to look at the table, there’s only a couple of wins between sides in the bottom three and teams in the top half.
“Hopefully we can start to bring a few teams who thought they were safe back into it.
“Look at Everton – they are only three points above us, and no-one has even mentioned them as possible relegation candidates.
“It’s going to be a fascinating end to the season and it’s going to go right to the wire.
“Games like Manchester United are the games you want to play in and are great occasions to experience.
“Wolves showed a couple of weeks ago that United can be beaten, and we fancy our chances of doing the same.”
United’s defeat at Molineux three weeks ago gave heart to the rest of the division that Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are not invincible.
It also acted as a bit of a dampener to Wigan’s own celebrations following their dramatic victory over Blackburn.
But, as Boyce points out, it served as a timely reminder that Latics cannot afford to rely on other results to secure their top-flight safety.
He explained: “You can only concentrate on your own game – there’s nothing you can do about other results.
“When we beat Blackburn, which was a great win, some of the shine was taken off when Wolves beat United.
“But it shows that the Premier League is so tight and finally balanced, that literally anyone can beat anyone on a given day.
“People probably won’t fancy us to get anything off United, but Wolves picked up a bonus three points and we need to take heart from that.
“Anything, even a point, would be a massive boost for our survival chances.”
Team-mate Steven Caldwell, meanwhile, admits the whole squad is united in its aim for the rest of the season – to remain a Premier League side.
The Scottish international has been squeezed out of the side with the return of brother Gary, but issued a reminder of his capabilities during last week’s FA Cup clash against Bolton.
But, with competition for places as intense as they have been all season, Caldwell insists now is not the time for toys to be thrown out of the pram.
“I just enjoy playing football - whether it’s the FA Cup or the league,” he said.
“It’s about personal standards and I try to stick to mine, do the right things and be ready for when I’m called on. Everybody needs to stand up and be counted.”