STEVEN Caldwell has called on wounded Wigan to ‘come out all guns blazing’ against Aston Villa tonight.
Latics are in desperate need of three points from the rearranged fixture against Gerard Houllier’s men, as they attempt to haul themselves out of the bottom three.
However, with the situation being so tight at the bottom, Latics know they would climb three places if they were to secure a first home win in over two months.
And Caldwell, who will anchor the defence in the absence of suspended brother Gary and injured colleague Antolin Alcaraz, is in no doubt as to the importance of the clash.
“It’s a massive game for us – we have to come out all guns blazing and bring our best performance to the table,” Caldwell said.
“And if we do that, we feel we can beat anybody in the division.
“Villa have a lot of quality in their ranks and I’m sure they’ll feel at this point of the season they should be competing for a European spot.
“They’ll be looking for a strong finish to the season, but it’s up to us to play to our strengths and come away with three points.”
Although Caldwell junior and Alcaraz will be out, Roberto Martinez has seen his injury crisis ease somewhat in the past fortnight, with almost all of his long-term absentees now fit and raring to go.
And he will need each and every one of them ahead of 15 cup finals between now and the end of the campaign.
“It’s crucial we have everybody fit for the run-in, and the gaffer is able to have the options available to him to pick the right team for the right occasions,” Caldwell argued.
“Victor (Moses), Tom (Cleverley), James (McCarthy) and Franco (di Santo) are all such exciting prospects for the future, and at this moment in time are vital players for our club.
“We’re also delighted Emmerson (Boyce) is back. It was a massive blow picking up the injury against Bolton in October, and we didn’t think he would be out for this length of time.
“His experience and quality have been sorely missed and will now be greatly appreciated over the coming months.
“If he’s given the start tonight, I’ve no doubt he’ll slot back in comfortably.
“Hopefully the fans too will come out in numbers, get behind us and give us that extra lift we need at this time of the season.
“It’s amazing to play in atmospheres like that and when you have that feeling of everyone behind you it makes you feel unbeatable. That’s what we need from now until the end of the season.”
Boyce looks set to come in at right-back with Steve Gohouri switching to centre-half alongside Caldwell senior, who believes his sibling is unfortunate to be sitting out tonight’s action following his red card for upending Cesc Fabregas on Saturday.
“I thought Gary was a touch unlucky,” Caldwell insisted.
“When the ball was played through, he went to challenge for the ball but tried to pull out and Fabregas went to ground.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t a penalty but, for me, Fabregas has gone down a little easy when he could have stayed on his feet.
“But that’s football – the referee points to the spot and you have to take your medicine.”
As for the thrill of playing alongside his brother at club level for the very first time, he added: “Three points is obviously more important than any personal accolades, but we’ll look back on that day at the end of our careers and it was very pleasing to play alongside my brother.
“It was something we had both hoped would always happen, and it was even more special to do so at the highest level at such a fantastic venue.
“However the day was a disappointing one, to come away with nothing, and now our focus is on trying to push Wigan Athletic up the table –starting tonight.”