Michael Jacobs believes Wigan Athletic will face a team well-equipped for the Premier League this afternoon in Derby.
Jacobs says his old club, who have moved ominously into play-off contention in recent weeks, will be there or thereabouts because of the sheer size of their operation.
“If you look at their squad, you’d expect them to be up there,” he told the Evening Post.
“The old manager, Steve McClaren, has come back in and got them going again.
“And I’ve not been surprised to be honest, because they’ve got such good strength in depth.
“It’s just a massive club – the set-up, the training ground, the stadium – and they’re aiming to be in the Premier League.
“You look at the money they’ve spent on players, £7-8million on some players, and that speaks for itself.
“Their start wasn’t great, but they’ve shown what can happen if you can string three or four wins together.
“They’ve gone from near the bottom of the league to near the top, and that’s what we have to be aiming for.”
This afternoon’s game is the first of a trio inside 11 days against arguably the three biggest sides in the division, with Aston Villa to come next weekend and Newcastle the following Wednesday.
It’s a stern challenge on paper, but one Latics will positively embrace out there on the field, according to manager Warren Joyce.
“You look at their budgets, and they’re Premier League teams aren’t they – three established Premier League clubs, and in the top half , not the bottom,” acknowled Joyce.
“But when you get out there, it’s 11 against 11, and that’s the only thing we’ll be looking at.
“You obviously want to win every game.
“You look at strengths and weaknesses, how best you can give them a problem, and how you can solve their problems.
“Names are only names on paper. I’ve come from a place, Manchester United, where there’s some of the biggest names in the world.
“But it’s not the name that counts when you’re out there on the grass.
“It’s the amount of preparation you’ve put in, and the more one-against-one duels on the pitch we can win, the better chance we’ve got of winning the games.
“Yes, they’ve got big players – but you could go through most teams in this league and say that about them.
“The only think that concerns me is what happens during the 90 minutes on the grass.
“If we prepare right on the training ground and we’re at our max, I’m confident we can give them a game.
“It’s a tough game for us, but every game’s a tough game for us in this division.”