Gary Caldwell insists Wigan Athletic will not be taking Southend United lightly this weekend as the DW Stadium prepares itself for a possible promotion party.
Latics stand three points clear of second-placed Burton at the top of League One with three matches to play.
Walsall are the third team in contention for automatic promotion, lying six points off the pace with a game in hand.
Given Wigan’s overwhelming advantage over both in terms of goal difference, Caldwell’s men will be all-but promoted if they win this weekend and either Burton lose at a Colchester side fighting against the drop or Walsall go down against a Bradford team needing a win to confirm their own play-off spot.
The Shrimpers have nothing to play for after a recent slump in fortunes, making them seemingly perfect opposition.
Caldwell, though, is taking absolutely nothing for granted.
“We’ll plan as we usually do and focus on ourselves,” the Latics boss acknowledged.
“They’re a good side and they pushed Walsall all the way only last weekend.
“They’re a difficult side to play against – we know that from the game down there.
“We’re ready for another big challenge.
“Everyone said we should have beaten Doncaster last weekend, with them not having won in three months and us not having lost in four.
“But football doesn’t work like that, and Saturday will be no different.
“I know their players won’t want to go to the league leaders and just lie down.
“You want to make a name for yourself, and pull off a shock.
“They’ll be coming here fully motivated to beat us, and we have to have an even bigger motivation and desire to win. We know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Caldwell believes the Wigan fans who were once again magnificent in helping their side to a 1-1 draw at Burton in midweek will have a central role to play come 3pm.
“They have to play a big part,” Caldwell added. “They have to come out in numbers, they have to come out in voice.
“Our away fans this year have been incredible, and they’ve got a response from the players. We need the home fans to come out in numbers this weekend and push us over the line.”
Latics also have the luxury of a fully-fit squad, with midfielder David Perkins back from a one-match suspension.
“Everyone’s fine and raring to go,” the Scot added. “They all trained Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in preparation for the game.
“We’ll all be staying in the hotel as usual to make sure we’re ready, so we’re not leaving anything to chance.
“We’re doing everything professionally to make sure the players are ready to go at 3pm on Saturday against Southend.”