Al Habsi fired up for Toon clash

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ALI Al Habsi has demanded the real Wigan Athletic stand up and show what they’re made of at Newcastle this afternoon.

Latics travel to Tyneside looking to arrest a slump of six defeats on the spin, against a Toon side who are unbeaten so far after eight matches.

There looks only one winner on paper, but Al Habsi insists Latics are capable of coming away with a result if they play to their potential.

The Oman No.1 has been one of the few Wigan players who have done themselves justice this term, with individual errors continuing to dog the side.

But Al Habsi says there would be no better time for the side to collectively rediscover their form than in the cauldron-like atmosphere at St James’ Park.

“Newcastle is a big, big game for us,” Al Habsi told the Evening Post. “And we have to go there and play as well as we can if we are to get a result.

“I don’t know what’s been going on, because the players we have here have all proved they are good players.

“But this year we are coming up with really bad mistakes that are costing us so many points.

“We are playing some nice football at time, but we need to think about what we’re doing a little bit more, and switch on at all times.

“Everybody has to stand up and be counted – the players, the management, the staff, the fans – if we are to turn it round.

“It’s too early to be talking about a crisis, but we do need to raise our game and stay focused at all times.” Antolin Alcaraz and Steve Gohouri found themselves under the spotlight after their involvement in all three of Bolton goals last weekend, and the Ivorian looks set to pay the price with Maynor Figueroa expected to return at left-back.

There were at least mitigating circumstances surrounding Alcaraz’s below-par display, with the Paraguayan returning after two months out with a thigh problem.

Alcaraz is expected to retain his spot alongside skipper Gary Caldwell, who is hopeful Latics can get back to winning ways at his former club.

“We know they’re flying at the moment, but we want to go there and end their good run – and we’re capable of doing that,” Caldwell said. “It’s still early days, and if you can go on a two or three game winning run, you can quickly move up the table.”

Caldwell also cited the togetherness at Newcastle, which has seen the club rally round boss Alan Pardew despite the sale of a number of ‘star’ performers such as Joey Barton and Andy Carroll, as the major factor behind their fine start to the campaign.

And, with his own side struggling at the moment, he believes it is a model that Latics could do a lot worse than try to follow.

“I think you have to give the manager a lot of credit for how well Newcastle are doing at the moment,” Caldwell added.

“The players are all fighting for the club and it just shows what can be achieved when everyone pulls together.”