WIGAN Athletic boss Gary Caldwell is expecting League One strugglers Barnsley to raise their game this weekend with the prize of a Wembley appearance in the JPT to spur them on.
Latics entertain the Tykes at the DW looking to book their place in the northern area final against either Fleetwood or Morecambe.
We’re prepared for a team that’s going to try to come here and stop usGary Caldwell
The winners of that game would be through to the Wembley final against the winners from the southern area.
Despite there being 16 points and 19 places between the two sides on the League One ladder, the Latics chief says that will count for nothing come kick-off.
“I’m expecting a tough game against another team that will raise their game against us,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“Every team we’ve played this season has done that, every team has adapted the way they play to combat us.
“Barnsley will be no different, and we’ll have to deal with that on the day.
“It’s a good thing in my opinion. It shows the respect teams have for us, that we do have quality players and we can hurt teams.
“We’re prepared for a team that’s going to try to come here and stop us.
“We need to get on that front foot, be more offensive, more positive in possession than we have been in recent games, and get back to scoring goals.”
It’s the first of two meetings between the sides in the space of a fortnight, with Latics due at Oakwell for league combat on December 19.
However, Caldwell does not think the winner of this weekend’s game will hold any sort of psychological advantage for the second encounter.
“I don’t think so, not least because this one is at home and the league game is away,” he added.
“Every game in unique, it’s different, and I don’t think the cup game will have any bearing on the league game to follow.”
Meanwhile, fans will have the chance to get up close and personal with the JPT itself this weekend at the DW.
Supporters will be invited to have their picture taken with the trophy ahead of the game, with the silverware being on display in the South Stand Supporters Club Bar between 1.30pm and 2.30pm.
Anyone who posts a selfie with the trophy on the JPT Facebook page or @JohnstonesPaint on Twitter will be entered into a prize draw to win a signed Latics shirt.