Max Power insists no-one at Wigan Athletic is under any illusions as to the size of this weekend’s clash at fellow strugglers Burton – and the possible long-term ramifications.
Second-bottom Latics travel to the fourth-bottom Brewers desperately wanting to cut the six-point buffer that currently lies between the two sides.
Once you step over the white line it’s up to you and your team-mates to put in the performances to get resultsMax Power
As an interesting aside, Burton are the only side who Latics have played and not yet beaten in the Football League.
But as far as Power and the Wigan players are concerned, the only thing that matters is adding three points to their meagre tally.
“It’s a massive game for us, there’s no hiding away from that,” Power told the Evening Post.
“And I’m sure Burton will be looking at it thinking it’s their chance of staying up.
“From our point of view, we know if we can go there and get a positive result, we drag them right into it and it gives us renewed belief of staying up.
“Everyone is well aware of the importance, and we’ll be ready to go again.”
Latics will be hoping to make it a quickfire East Midlands double, having got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup last weekend.
“We’ve just got to maintain that level and that standard, and take it into the league,” acknowledged Power.
“Unfortunately, as well as we played on Saturday, we didn’t come away with any points, but there have been signs of improvement in recent weeks.
“I think the key on Saturday was scoring at the right times, scoring when we were on top.
“I could go back to many games this year when that’s not been the case – at Derby on New Year’s Eve, when we could have been out of sight by half-time.
“Scoring goals at the right times is vital if you want to see out games.”
Goals from Will Grigg and Yanic Wildschut gave Latics a deserved win over a desperately poor Forest side that could well find themselves in the bottom three if they continue on their downward trajectory.
“I think even more pleasing than the win was the performance as well,” Power recognised.
“You could see right from the off, back to front, we were on the front foot, and really positive with our play.
“And I think in recent weeks – bar the Rotherham game, when we had that disastrous 45 minutes – the performances have been improving.
“We’ve been in every single game bar Rotherham, but we also know full well that the table doesn’t lie.
“We are down there for a reason, we know we haven’t won enough games, and it’s important now that we take some confidence from the cup win into the league.”
Like most of the side which claimed promotion from League One last term, Power has taken time to acclimatise to life in the second tier.
But he is determined to remain on an even keel, confident that the quality which made him a fans favourite among the Latics fans will shine through over the course of the campaign.
“I don’t know about fans favourite...maybe last year, not so much this year!” he adds, self-deprecatingly.
“It’s tough because everything’s great when you’re winning every week.
“But when you’re not winning, you’re going to get criticism.
“I try not to take too much notice of either praise or criticism.
“I don’t think too much praise is good for you, and you can’t let criticism get you down either.
“You’ve just got to keep going, be strong mentally.
“Once you step over the white line, it’s up to you and your team-mates to put in the performances to get results.”
Power’s quality has certainly not gone unnoticed elsewhere, with several Championship clubs – including Leeds, Brentford and Birmingham – believed to be admiring from afar.
But it’s not something that’s going to take his focus away from the job in hand in terms of helping Latics out of trouble.
“Obviously there’s always speculation going on at this time of year,” the ex-Tranmere man remarked.
“I just go about my business the same as I always have and just get on with it.
“I’ll be a Wigan player until I’m told otherwise. Nothing’s changed from my point of view.
“Obviously if the club decided they wanted me to move on, that would be something I’d have to assess.
“But as far as I’m concerned I’m here, I’m happy, and I’m raring to play every game.
“I think you saw on Saturday that everyone is still very much playing for the shirt.
“Let’s hope we can get through this month, and then carry on for the rest of the season, and make sure we stay in this division.”