Vice-captain Jake Buxton says he’ll make sure Wigan Athletic’s players will know all about the enormity of tomorrow’s derby day at Preston – after bending the ear of local lad Jordan Flores.
Latics make the short trip up the M6 to Deepdale for the first time in over 11 years, when Lee McCulloch’s goal secured a 1-1 draw.
In recent years, Latics have found themselves involved in north-west derbies against the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in the Premier League, as well as Rochdale and Bury in League One.
But the the clash against Preston has always been a special – and eagerly-awaited – one for the Wigan supporters.
“I’ve been asking this week about the rivalry, the atmosphere, and how many fans we’d be taking with us,” Buxton told the Evening Post.
“Jordan Flores, who’s obviously a local lad, was telling me all about it, and saying we’ll hopefully have 3,000 travelling with us – and they’ll be loud.
“We’ll need that, because all the derbies I’ve played in during my career have been frantic, and you have to stand up and be counted in the fight.
“You need to win your battle before you can play any football, and the stakes will be so high on Friday.
“Preston’s a tough game to go, and we need to perform at our best if we are to get anything from it.”
Latics go into the game on the back of a 0-0 draw against Fulham last weekend, which at least halted the slump after four defeats on the bounce.
Preston, meanwhile, had the distraction of a midweek trip all the way down to Bournemouth in the EFL Cup, eventually going through after extra-time – which Buxton hopes will be a factor tomorrow night.
“The final 20 minutes of the game will be crucial, because of the fact Preston went to extra time at Bournemouth in midweek,” he explained.
“They ended up getting a great result, but normally in a three-game week your legs start to become heavy towards the end of the third game.
“They’ve also had the huge travelling involved, and we need to make sure we capitalise on that.
“If we can pick up three points, that would also put an added bit of pressure on the teams around us at the bottom, who don’t play until the following day.
“We’ve also got an extra 24 hours recovery before Tuesday night’s game against Wolves, so there’s no doubting it could be a very important night for us.”
Latics are unbeaten in their last seven visits to Preston, stretching back to 1995.