Chey Dunkley insists Wigan Athletic have to be on red alert this weekend to avoid trouble at the Mill in a league where literally anything can happen.
Latics travel to play-off chasing Rotherham, looking to build on the 3-0 midweek win over Doncaster at the DW Stadium.
It was the ideal response to last weekend’s 2-1 home defeat to Bradford – their first loss in the league at the DW for eight months.
Bradford themselves had been beaten 1-0 at home the previous weekend by bottom-of-the-table Plymouth, who were replaced in 24th spot by a Bury side who then beat long-time leaders Shrewsbury in midweek!
That shock result enabled Latics to cut the lead on the Shrews to a single point ahead of this weekend’s clash with the Millers – and acted as another warning in case anyone at the DW was in danger of getting complacent.
“There’s just no easy games at this level,” Dunkley told the Wigan Post.
“You’ve only got to look at Tuesday’s results, with bottom beating top.
“And we know Rotherham will give us a very tough game at the weekend.
“We’ve just got to make sure we’re ready for whichever challenge is in front is us.
“We were all disappointed with both the performance and the result against Bradford last weekend.
“We’re obviously a team that everybody tries to raise their game against – and we know how it’s going to be.
“Credit to Bradford, I thought they were the best team that’s come to the DW all season.
“To bounce back against Doncaster in midweek was obviously big credit to the lads and how we played.
“We moved on quickly from Saturday to Tuesday, and now we’ve got to move on quickly from Tuesday to this coming Saturday.”
For centre-back Dunkley, the victory over Doncaster was doubly special, with Latics also getting back in to ‘clean sheet’ mode after looking as open as they have all season against Bradford.
“From a defensive perspective it was great to get back to clean sheets,” recognised Dunkley.
“We pride ourselves on that as a back five, and we’re happy the lads did the business at the other end because it eases the pressure on us.”
The Bradford game had been a bitter-sweet experience for the Wolverhampton-born defender, who’d managed to bag his third goal of the season at the ‘right’ end while having his work cut out at the other end defending.
“It’s always nice to get a goal, but I know I’m really in the team to defend,” he added.
“If we do get set-pieces, it’s my opportunity to try and chip in with the odd goal, and help the forward players.
“Hopefully there’s more to come on that score, but it’s more about the clean sheets for me.”
Dunkley and Co will have their work cut out this weekend when they come up against on-loan Ipswich striker Kieffer Moore, who is League One’s top scorer with 13.
“He’s obviously on a good run at the moment so we’ll have to be on our guard against him,” acknowledged Dunkley.
“But we get clips from the analysts of every player we’re coming up against, and I like to have a look at them, and seeing who we’re facing.
“It’s good to have a look at how certain players play –whether it’s the small, nippy guy, or a bigger, stronger kind of target man.
“When you look at the clips, you can get yourself prepared for what kind of game it’s going to be.
“It makes no difference to me what kind of player I’m up against – I feel I can get myself around the field, and I can also handle myself when it gets physical.
“Obviously different strikers pose different problems. It’s making sure you’re ready for that.”