Warren Joyce believes Wigan Athletic have to take maximum advantage from the rare luxury of a full week’s training ahead of Saturday’s do-or-die clash at fellow strugglers Blackburn.
After playing Saturday-Tuesday for the last three weeks, Latics and Joyce do not have the distraction of a midweek game as they prepare themselves for the biggest game of the campaign at Ewood Park.
The teams above us have all been in the middle of a really good run when they’ve come hereWarren Joyce
And the manager knows his side have to make it count as they attempt to claw themselves out of the relegation mire.
“It will help, because some of the players have played every minute of every game,” Joyce acknowledged.
“We’ve not even had chance to work on the training ground on real things.
“Sometimes we’ve not even had time to dwell too much on mistakes, because we’ve had another game within a few days.
“There’s not a massive squad here, some of the young lads are not at the same fitness levels as the experienced players.
“You’re signing players who are not playing at other clubs - it’s not like they’re ready made to go flat out.
“They’ve not been training, they’re not battle-hardened, so there’s a side issue of getting all those lads up to speed.
“It’s not a case of resting some players and giving others a chance.
“The ones coming in might not be as fit as some of the lads who have played every game.”
Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest saw Latics remain in the bottom three with only a dozen games now remaining.
But Joyce is refusing to get too downbeat, despite hearing boos on the final whistle from a sizeable section of the home support.
“At the moment, everyone in the camp is positive, everyone is looking to battle and win every game,” he insisted.
“They’re not looking too hard at the league table.
“If you look at the league table over the last eight games, we’d be above halfway.
“The teams above us have all been in the middle of a really good run when they’ve come here.
“That’s the kind of thing I look at, not that we’re in the bottom three at the minute.
“That gives us confidence to think we’ve got a chance.
“We can’t be looking at the league table. We’ve just got to focus on winning the next game.”
Despite not registering a single shot on target against Forest, Joyce also felt his men showed enough to suggest a change in fortunes is just around the corner.
“It was a scrappy game, but if you look at opportunities, and shots at goal, we’ve had a lot more than they did,” the Latics boss added.
“We’ve maybe not hit the target, but certainly we’ve created some good opportunities to get strikes in.
“If you’re looking back and reflecting on them, you’d expect at least one of them to go in on another day.”