AROUNA Kone admits the Wigan Athletic players are thriving on the pressure to pull away from the bottom of the table.
Latics moved out of the relegation zone thanks to their 3-0 victory at Reading, with Kone grabbing the first two goals to make it four in his last two outings.
On the back of the 4-1 FA Cup triumph at Huddersfield the previous weekend, it means Latics are finding form at exactly the right time ahead of the final push.
And the Ivorian is the first to acknowledge the importance of hitting form when it matters most.
“Saturday’s game had the feel of a derby game in that it was such a crucial game at the bottom of the table against a rival team,” Kone said.
“That was the way we approached the game, and it was such a fantastic performance.
“Hopefully we will gain a lot of confidence now for the rest of the season.”
Kone has hit the ground running after returning from the African Nations Cup, most of which he watched from the substitutes’ bench.
But he believes Wigan could be the major beneficiaries of his unscheduled mid-season ‘break’.
“I went to the African Nations Cup with the aim of playing, and obviously I didn’t play as much as I would have hoped,” he explained. “The flip side of that was that I come back refreshed which will hopefully help Wigan Athletic move up to their rightful position in the league.
“If I had played every game for the Ivory Coast I perhaps would have been a bit tired and worn out.
“Instead I am hungry and fresh, and I think I have shown that in the last two matches.”