EMMERSON BOYCE admits Wigan Athletic can’t let the gap between themselves and the Championship pace-setters get any bigger.
Latics stand in 12th spot, 12 points behind joint-leaders Burnley and QPR – but with two games in hand.
It would have been even more had Boyce not nodded in a stoppage-time time winner against Blackburn at the weekend to send Latics into the international break on a high.
And as most of the players enjoy a well-deserved rest, the skipper acknowledges the importance of staying on the coat-tails of the quick-starters.
“We really need to keep in touch with the teams at top, we can’t let them get out of sight,” he told the Evening Post.
“We knew before we took to the field against Blackburn that QPR and Burnley had both won again on Saturday.
“And although it’s still early days, you don’t want too much of a gap to open up.
“Obviously we’ve got games in hand, but you need to start putting points on the board as quickly as possible.
“You’ve got to make the games count or you can lose touch.
“It keeps us ticking over nicely going into the international break.”
Boyce acknowledges the international break could not have come at a better time, with Latics having just completed their seventh match in the space of 22 days spread across three competitions.
“I’ve been losing track of what days we’ve been playing recently, it’s been that hectic,” he added.
“But the break has come at a good time, and we’ll come back fresh for the Blackpool game next weekend.”
Boyce grabbed his first goal of the campaign to see off Rovers on Sunday, leaping like a salmon to divert Ben Watson’s free-kick into the top corner via the far post.
And the 34-year-old, who had appeared as a second-half substitute for Ryan Shotton, insists it was no more than his side deserved.
“We pinned them back so much in that second half and I was always confident we’d get one more chance at the end,” Boyce said.
“You need to get crosses into the box in games like that and fortunately that’s how we managed to get the winner.
“It took us a while to get control of the game, but I was confident that once we got one we’d go on and get another.”
The Rovers result was reward for Owen Coyle’s positivity in not settling for a point even though his side had to come from a goal down.
Latics continued to pile men forward as they went in search of a winner, and Coyle feels they could be sitting even higher in the table.
“We’re sitting on 14 points at the moment but we feel we could easily be up there on 19 or 20 with a couple of games in hand,” he said.
“Looking forward there is so much to be excited about, and if we can show the courage of our convictions like we did on Sunday we’ll be all right.”