Gilks is handily placed to help

Matt Gilks insists there's '˜more than enough games' for Wigan Athletic to fight their way out of the Championship relegation mire.

Friday, 3rd March 2017, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:06 am
Matt Gilks

Latics make the short trip to Ewood Park this weekend to face a Blackburn side who leapfrogged them into third-bottom place in the table thanks to a midweek win over Derby.

It’s the first of a dozen remaining matches that will make or break the campaign, but Gilks says no-one at the DW is even remotely close to reaching for the panic button just yet.

“There’s more than enough games to get out of this,” Gilks told the Post.

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“It’s going to be a fight – a real dogfight – but we’ve got enough time and enough quality to get out of it.

“There’s some big games, important games, coming up with a lot riding on them.

“We’re looking to pick up points, but so will our opponents, and everyone else at the bottom.

“It’s a big game at Blackburn, and I think we’ve all been glad of the rest this week with no midweek game.

“It’s a big game, but they’re all big games at this stage of the season at this level.

“It’s the proverbial six-pointer – I’m sure everyone’s well aware of that – and we’ll have to make sure we’re mentally right on the day.

“There’s some very big teams down at the bottom, and it’s not easy to fight your way out of it.”

Gilks goes into the game having kept clean sheets in three of the four matches he’s played since taking over from the injured Jakob Haugaard.

However, a lack of productivity at the other end meant it was very much a case of two points dropped last time out, with Nottingham Forest returning south with a goalless draw.

“It probably wasn’t enough to be fair,” acknowledged Gilks. “You’re always looking to win games, not settle for a 0-0. It was a scrappy affair, probably not a good spectacle for the spectators, but we’ve come off having not been beaten.

“At this moment of the season, a point could be the difference between staying up and going down, so it could be vital.

“It was very much tit-for-tat, no-one wanting to make the mistake that will decide the game.

“If we can just catch a break here or there, hopefully that can be the difference for us.

“We’re not scoring goals, but we’re putting it up there, we’re scrapping for bits, and we’re fighting.

“The chances haven’t really been falling for our strikers – an easy tap-in – like they seem to do for other teams. But we’re a threat, and I think sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition for dealing with it well.”

The stalemate against Forest means Latics have won only once in the last seven matches.

In contrast, Rovers have picked up since Tony Mowbray replaced Owen Coyle in the hotseat, with four points from a possible six suggesting a corner has been turned.

“It’s probably not the best time for us to be playing them with their new manager having just gone in, because teams to get a bit of a lift from that,” Gilks recognised.

“He’ll get them going, no doubt about that. He’s been out of work for a while and he’ll be full of enthusiasm. He’s proved over the years he’s a very good manager and I’m sure he’ll have them well-drilled on the day.”

Gilks is hoping Saturday’s trip won’t leave him feeling sick – an emotion he has experienced on a previous encounter at Ewood Park, during his Blackpool days.

“I’ve played there a few times – including once when I was quite ill, and I probably shouldn’t have played – but I just wanted to play,” the ex-Scotland international revealed.

“We drew 2-2 so at least we didn’t lose the game.

“It can be a really intimidating atmosphere at Blackburn.

“Their fans turn up, they get behind the team, and they’re very often their 12th man.

“Hopefully we can go there and silence them from the off.”