GARY Caldwell feels Wigan Athletic are capable of handling the pressure and expectation of being League One promotion favourites.
Latics entertain Scunthorpe tonight looking for their first win of the campaign at the fourth attempt, after losses to Coventry and Bury – in the Capital One Cup – were followed by Sunday’s draw against Doncaster.
We have to be able to match that and be able to match that and raise our game every weekGary Caldwell
While Caldwell would have undoubtedly hoped for a better return, a slowish start was inevitable given the huge turnover in staff in the off-season.
And the Scot believes Latics will quickly find their stride – and ‘stand up’ to the challenge of being seen as a big scalp in the division.
“I don’t think there’s extra pressure on us,” the Latics chief said. “We should use that as a positive. If people are going to raise their game against us then great.
“We have to be able to match that and be able to match that and raise our game every week. That’s the expectation when you sign for our club in this league, and players have to stand up to that.”
The games are coming thick and fast, and Caldwell has tweaked training to avoid player burn-out.
“It would be crazy to work them too hard when they have game-time as much as they have at the minute,” he revealed.
“We’re trying to create a culture here that we work hard, and we leave no stone unturned in terms of preparations for games.
“While we have to be aware of it, we’re also working very hard on the training pitch to put right what hasn’t quite been going for us on match days.”
Menawhile, Jason Pearce is due to make his long-awaited return from injury for the Development Squad this afternoon.
The ex-Leeds centre-back picked up a leg injury at the beginning of pre-season, which ruled him out of all the warm-up matches.
“He’ll be playing for the Under-21s and getting his fitness up there,” revealed Caldwell.
“He’s been outstanding in training. His attitude and commitment in training is first class. It’ll be good to get that 90 minutes for him to prepare for Saturday.”