NEILL Rimmer says Wigan Athletic need to win the fight early on before they can earn the right to play against local rivals Bolton tomorrow.
The Latics legend is a veteran of several derbies against the Trotters and, with his old club desperate to win to keep alive their hopes of avoiding the drop, he knows the DW Stadium will not be a place for the faint-hearted.
They’ve battled their way out of it since Neil Lennon took over, and we need to make sure we match them in that departmentNeill Rimmer
“It’s all about determination, attitude and desire on the day,” Rimmer told the Evening Post.
“They’ve battled their way out of it since Neil Lennon took over, and we need to make sure we match them in that department.
“It’s a massive game for everyone connected to the club – on and off the pitch.
“A win would obviously give the players a massive lift for the rest of the season.
“And the fans would get the bragging rights over their local rivals, as well as belief that the side can get out of the situation we’re in.”
Rimmer also believes the Wigan fanbase – which underpinned the recent ‘must-win’ triumphs at Blackpool and Rotherham – has a massive role to play again tomorrow.
“The more fans we can get to the game the better,” he acknowledged. “Bolton always bring a big following, and we need to try and counter that.
“We’ve seen the way the players have responded to the big away followings in recent weeks – like Blackpool and Rotherham.
“I noticed at Rotherham the players went over and clapped the away support before the game even started, it got everyone going.
“There’s not long left in the season now, and something like that could make the difference and help us turn things around.”
Rimmer has fond memories of the derby, boasting a positive record from his playing days – including one match at Springfield Pak where he had first use of the showers.
“I got sent off after five or six minutes,” he remembered.
“I’d just been fouled, and I thought, ‘I’m not having that’.
“I think it was Stuart Storer I went through, he nearly ended up in the dug-out, and the referee sent me off.
“I’m not proud of what happened, but that was back in the day when you had to really do something to get sent off – I think the tier system was yellow card, red card, prison.
“Of course it’s not like that nowadays, but you still have to compete for the right to play and that’s what our lads have to do this weekend.”