Latics will have to do it tough, says McCann

Chris McCann at the Wigan Athletic training ground

Chris McCann at the Wigan Athletic training ground

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LATICS midfielder Chris McCann has predicted this year’s Championship will be the most competitive in history.

The second tier of English football is often claimed to be the toughest of all the divisions, as clubs fight to reach the Promised Land of the Premier League.

This claim was certainly borne out last term when Peterborough went down with 54 points from their 46 league matches – despite being just 14 points off a play-off berth. And former Burnley ace McCann believes this year’s Championship could be even competitive.

“I don’t think anyone realised how tight the league is going to be this year,” McCann told the Evening Post.

“It was bad enough last year when teams were getting relegated on 50-odd points, which was very strange.

“It might be even higher this year because the league is getting tougher and tougher.

“There’s probably 12 teams who will feel they will be competing for the top six. We’re one of those sides, and we have to make sure we stay in the hunt.”

Latics have been thrown in at the deep end on their return to the second tier, having to combine an increased workload with Europa League commitments.

They currently stand 12 points off the early leaders, but with two games in hand, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Blackpool.

“I think we all knew before the season started that it was going to take a big effort this year with the Europa League commitments as well as the Championship programme,” the Irishman added.

“But that’s why we have a big squad, and you’re going to need that rotation throughout the year to give some of the lads a break when it’s needed.

“I think the gaffer has done a reasonable job so far in rotating the squad, spreading out the minutes on the pitch.

“Whoever has been out there in the middle, there’s been no drop in quality.

“Everybody in the squad is pushing to play every week and that’s the way it should be.”

McCann also admitted the international break had come at a good time for Latics.

“It’s given some of the lads time to recharge the batteries,” he acknowledged. “But at the same time you don’t want to rest on your laurels and we’ve been training hard ahead of some big games ahead.

“We’ve developed momentum with some good wins in recent weeks, and the gaffer is keen for us to keep that going.”