GARY Caldwell has warned Southend United that this weekend is the worst possible time to be playing a ‘wounded’ Wigan Athletic.
Latics make the long trip down to the Essex coast still smarting from a midweek loss to Burton that ended their impressive 11-match unbeaten league run.
However, Caldwell rejected the notion that his side would be ripe for the picking.
“A wounded animal is obviously something that wants to come out fighting,” he told the Evening Post.
“We’re hungry to play this game - I wouldn’t have thought it’s a good weekend to be playing us at all.
“Of course we know we’re in for a tough game, because they’re playing very well and on a good run.
“But we’re anxious to show that Tuesday night was only a blip in a season that’s been successful so far.”
Caldwell says ‘lessons have been learned’ from the Burton game, although he stopped short of suggesting it might prove to be a blessing in the long run.
“It’s never good to lose – I would never say that,” he retorted.
“But it is a lesson, and one we’ll take. In football, you have to learn your lessons quickly, and we have done.
“As a group, the players have been fantastic, the way they have taken things on board.
“The way they learnt lessons from losses earlier in the season has allowed them to show a great deal of improvement.
“And I see the same things now – the same desire is there, the same hunger is there.
“I trust my players. I know they will learn from it, and that’s a great thing for me.”
After becoming the first away manager to win a league game at the DW Stadium this season, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink backed both sides to go on and win promotion to the Championship.
It’s not a claim Caldwell could find fault with.
“I would agree with my own team being up there – 100 per cent,” he acknowledged.
“Burton, on the night, showed they are defensively very capable, they make it very difficult for you, and they carry that threat on the counter.
“I would have to agree with his statement, yes.”
This weekend’s game will see a couple of Latics players potentially walking a disciplinary tightrope.
Midfielder Max Power and captain Craig Morgan have both accrued four cautions this term, one short of the figure that would see them incur an automatic one-match suspension.
They have to stay on the right side of the law for 90 minutes before Monday’s yellow-card amnesty removes the threat of an instant ban.
But Caldwell insists it’s not something that will enter his head prior to the game.
“I always try to pick a team I believe is the best team to win the game on that day,” he added.
“It would never enter my mind to tell a player to go easy on a tackle to avoid a booking - not even my five-year-old son!
“That’s never in my mind, not at all.”