Latics '˜won't look too far ahead'
Wigan Athletic first team coach Anthony Barry insists the squad will be keeping their focus fixed on today's clash with Oxford '“ despite a bumper fixture pile-up being just around the corner.
When Latics clock off this evening, a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash with Shrewsbury is up next on Boxing Day, presenting a chance for Wigan to break away at the top of League One before they host Charlton next Friday.
But Barry has warned looking too far ahead will result in his side getting hurt.
“You never want to take your eye off the game coming up because that will have a knock-on effect to the next game, result pending,” he said.
“But you look at the lads’ minutes and maybe do a bit of adjusting. It’s a bit of a cliche but you can’t focus past Oxford. Look at that game and getting the three points and we’ll adjust from there.
“(To look to Shrewsbury) would be a lack of respect to Oxford because if we take our eye off them they will beat us. They will hurt us and that’s a fact. Oxford need 100 per cent respect and we will do that.”
Today’s game is the first of four in the festive period, finishing with the New Year’s Day trip to Northampton, presenting a challenge to football clubs which is as much a Christmas tradition as cold turkey sandwiches.
And while Barry admitted the task in front of Wigan will be tough, he acknowledged that this time of year is great for supporters.
“The fans love it,” he said.
“ As staff I think it’s tough trying to look after your players and keep them in peak condition and form through this period but it’s something that’s always happened.
“Right now it’s the challenge in front of us.”
Oxford’s 35 goals so far this season shows they have had no trouble finding the back of the net, while Wigan’s watertight defence has seen them concede the fewest goals in the division.
And while a goal-frenzy might provide ideal entertainment before supporters make the journey back for Christmas celebrations, Barry says any win will do.
“The fans might want it but we’ll take any low scoring victory,” he said.
“But they are a great side with great options.
“They have a side with a style of play that’s tough to work with and tough to deal with.”
Barry also reported no fresh injury concerns going into the next block of fixtures, with Ryan Colclough expected to be back in the squad after overcoming an illness.
He also revealed an injury to Noel Hunt has not proved to be serious.
“Colclough is back in the squad. Noel had a knock earlier in the week but seems fine, so we’ll be ready to go,” said the coach. “All the lads are in good shape. Some of the lads had some down time this week and we had a game on Tuesday against Burnley for some of the lads who’ve lacked minutes so all in all it’s been a good week.”
Oxford, in ninth spot, are pushing to keep in touch with the play-off places, while Wigan will be top at Christmas regardless of the result.
But the win, and the three points, would ensure they at least keep their four-point cushion in pole position ahead of the Boxing Day showdown with second-placed Shrewsbury at the DW Stadium.