Gary Caldwell admits both he and Wigan Athletic have come ‘a long way’ since their last trip to Brentford back in May 2015.
Latics return to Griffin Park this afternoon looking to make a better impression than they did 17 months ago, when a 3-0 defeat was a fitting way to draw a line under a catastrophic campaign that saw them relegated from the Championship.
It’s been all change since then, of course, with Caldwell steering the side to the League One title, and they travel south full of confidence thanks to the 2-1 midweek win over Wolves.
“It will be great to go back with a team that I know can give Brentford lots of problems,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“We’ve come a long way since the last time we were there.
“I remember that game really well, it was one of my first in management.
“We kind of experimented that day, I tried to play an attack-minded system against their attacking system, to try to counter it.
“It worked for 25 minutes, we were in the game, although we got comfortably beaten in the end.
“It feels like a long, long time ago when that game took place.”
Jordan Flores made his debut for Latics on their previous visit, and the youngster is the only survivor in the current squad, such has been the overhaul in the last three transfer windows.
“I’m going with players who believe in themselves, who believe in the way they play, and who believe in each other,” Caldwell acknowledged.
“The last time I went there, I didn’t have that, so I’m looking forward to this.
“I’d take this group of players anywhere to be honest – any stadium in the country – because I believe in them 100 per cent, that they can beat anyone on their day.
“With the momentum from Tuesday night, we’re really looking forward to it.”
Caldwell has also reported no fresh injury worries ahead of the game, bar the usual bumps and bruises associated with playing three games in a week.
“Everyone’s fine,” added the Latics boss. “Obviously recovery is an important aspect, and we’ve worked very hard on that with the fitness coaches and the physios.
“We’ve done everything we possibly can to make sure everyone is full of energy and ready to attack the game.”
Caldwell’s biggest decision is whether to start Will Grigg or Adam Le Fondre up front.