DON Cowie admits Wigan Athletic will have to fight for the right to get their festive period up and running this weekend at struggling Barnsley.
Latics travel to Oakwell looking to make amends for their shock JPT exit at the hands of the Tykes only a fortnight ago.
After scraping a 2-2 draw against a side propping up League One at the time, Latics crashed out after a penalty shoot-out.
That will give them added incentive to pick up three precious points when the sides lock horns again.
But Cowie is well aware it will be easier said than done.
“I thought Barnsley looked an excellent team when they came here the other week,” he told the Evening Post.
“They’re down there at the bottom of the league but, on that showing, it’s hard to see why they are struggling.
“They’ve got some great players in the side – the boy (Adam) Hammill has really made a difference and the boy (Connor) Hourihane has hit a bit of form in midfield. It won’t be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination – there are no easy games at this level.
“We saw that when Shrewsbury came here a few weeks ago, a team in the middle-to-bottom area of the league. We won 1-0 but they gave us a very hard game.
“We had the 5-0 against Colchester, but that was thanks to a couple of very early goals which deflated them.
“We just need to get back to making good starts, putting teams on the back foot from the off.
“With the players we’ve got, if we can do that, we can frighten anyone in this division.”
Latics go into the game looking to arrest a sequence of four games without a win that has seen them slip to sixth in the table.
The latest setback was a 1-0 reversal at the hands of struggling Blackpool last weekend, with the on-field performance proving every bit as miserable as the weather.
“There was a very disappointing feeling in the dressing room,” Cowie acknowledged.
“But there’s nothing you can do apart from put it behind you and try to move on.
“We went on a great run but, for whatever reason, the results just haven’t been there in the last few weeks.
“What we need to do is try to get back on another run as quickly as possible, and try to bridge the gap between ourselves and the top teams.
“I know it’s easy to say it’s a blip but, when you look at the squad of players we have here, I’m confident we’ll turn things around.
“Why has it happened? Right now I don’t know, but it’s up to us and the management team to look at it and try to rectify it.”
The ex-Scotland man reckons the festive period represents the ideal opportunity for Latics to turn things around ahead of the second half of the season.
“I’ve played football for a long time now and I’ve seen what can happen during the festive season,” he added.
“At Cardiff, we were in the top two going into Christmas, but we fell away and we only scraped into the top six. That’s what can happen, this is a big time of the year.”