Ali - Latics are boxing clever

Cardiff City's Steven Caulker and Wigan Athletic's Ali Al-Habsi
Cardiff City's Steven Caulker and Wigan Athletic's Ali Al-Habsi

ALI Al Habsi believes Wigan Athletic underlined their promotion credentials with a ‘massive’ victory at Brighton.

Latics dug deep for a big three points on the south coast, to move to within one point of the play-off places with a game in hand.

With sixth-placed Reading and fifth-placed Nottingham Forest – Wigan’s next opponents – both losing, Al Habsi believes the side have timed their charge to perfection.

“The team is playing fantastic football, especially away from home,” he told the Evening Post.

“It’s been a tough week for us, but you can’t do any better than three wins in seven days.

“It was a very difficult game, because Brighton are a very good side and deserve to be where they are near the top of the league.

“But we looked very strong, very solid, very professional.

“The last 15 minutes was always going to be tense against a team pushing for goals.

“But we defended very well and deserved to win the game.”

Wigan’s win was even more impressive given Ben Watson has now joined top scorer Nick Powell, last year’s Player of the Year Shaun Maloney and club captain Gary Caldwell on the injured list.

But Josh McEachran did well at the Amex on his first start for Latics.

And Al Habsi says Watson’s absence has given the side even more reason to achieve their goals this term.

“It was a very tough week for us all, because Ben is a very popular member of the squad and a very important player,” the Oman No.1 added.

“I am sad from him – it is not easy for him or his family, and we all wish him a very speedy recovery.

“At least he signed off in style with a big goal at Cardiff, and of course he also scored the most important goal in the club’s history at Wembley last season.

“Saturday’s win was for him. The three points were for him.”

Fraser Fyvie has returned to Wigan after his loan spell at Shrewsbury was cut short due to a knee injury.

It’s the second time Fyvie has seen injury curtail his hopes of impressing elsewhere, after he was forced back early from Yeovil before Christmas.