Jake Buxton has challenged Wigan Athletic to sting the Bees of Brentford this weekend – to extend their winning run to three matches, and also to pile the pressure on their relegation rivals.
Latics are hoping to build on morale-boosting wins over Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup and last week’s crucial league victory at Burton against the out-of-form Londoners.
We still believe we’ve got enough belief and quality to fight our way out of thisJake Buxton
With fourth-bottom Burton at resurgent Cardiff this weekend, another three points for Latics could see them climb out of the bottom three for the first time in months.
And Buxton says that would be a massive psychological boost at an important stage of the campaign.
“We’ve been in the bottom three for a lot of the season, it’s nothing new for us,” he told the Evening Post.
“For those teams above us, who maybe haven’t been in the bottom three this season, it’s something new.
“For them to be maybe dropping into the bottom three at this stage of the season, you don’t know how they’ll react.
“It might knock them for six, you never know.
“We’ve been down there, we’re not frightened of being down there.
“Obviously we’re not happy to be there, but we’re not panicking.
“We still believe we’ve got enough belief and quality to fight our way out of this.”
Latics reduced the gap to safety with a deserved victory last time out at Burton, with new-boy Callum Connolly grabbing both goals.
Buxton also says the importance of the win was exacerbated by the fact it dragged Burton further down into the mire.
“We know it’s so important we compete with the teams in and around us in the table – like we didn’t do against Ipswich and Rotherham,” the big centre-back acknowledged.
“The gap between ourselves and Burton had they won would have been massive, and we had to grab the chance of pulling them down with us.
“You’ll find as the end of the season gets nearer, the tension and the nerves will increase and everything becomes very uptight.
“You’ll find there’s not much football played by the teams around the bottom of the table.
“It becomes all about winning your individual battles, and doing well in either box.
“Luckily I think we’ve got enough quality in both boxes to make that happen.
“Callum’s another body on board, and he made a big impression at Burton.
“We’ve talked about getting more men into the box, and if you can get someone like Callum being picked up by a winger, then that’s what you want.”
The clean sheet at the Pirelli Stadium was Wigan’s second on the spin, and means they’ve conceded only one goal – an individual error from Jussi Jaaskelainen against Huddersfield – in the four-and-a-half games since the half-time whistle at Rotherham on Boxing Day.
“After the first five or six games, we made a conscious effort to become more stable and solid at the back,” Buxton added.
“And that’s not just the back four and the goalkeeper – it’s people like Michael Jacobs, Shaun MacDonald, Will Grigg, dropping in to help.
“We need everyone pulling in the same direction to get us out of the position we’re in, and that’s the way it’s going at the moment.”