Nicholls hoping to make mark in Russia

Lee Nicholls
Lee Nicholls

LEE Nicholls will jet out to Russia with the rest of the Wigan Athletic squad today, hoping to making his mark on the Euro stage.

The 21-year-old is set to make his Europa League debut when Latics take on mighty Rubin Kazan on Thursday night.

Four years ago, Rubin beat Barcelona in the Champions League on their own Nou Camp pitch.

This time, Latics will provide the opposition, with Nicholls as the last line of defence.

It’s been a remarkable rise to prominence for the Liverpudlian, who spent last season on loan at League Two Northampton.

However, with Scott Carson joining Ali Al Habsi on the injured list, Nicholls has found himself a key player as Latics chase success at home and abroad.

“Going to Russia will be a very different experience,” admitted Nicholls.

“But if the gaffer chooses me again I won’t be treating the game any differently to the three previous league games.

“It’s another big stage, but I’ll prepare for it as I do every game and make sure that I’m focussed for the test.”

Nicholls is making the most of his big chance, which came when Carson picked up an ankle injury in the warm-up at Charlton a fortnight ago.

After back-to-back clean sheets against the Addicks and QPR, Nicholls conceded his first league goal via a heavily-deflected effort against Huddersfield at the weekend.

But he admits Thursday’s tie will be by far the biggest test of his short career.

“Rubin Kazan are a top side especially when they play in the Europa League,” added Nicholls.

“You’ve only got to look at the past four years in the competition to see how well they can do.

“We know they’re going to be a threat going forward and they showed that when they came to the DW Stadium the other week.

“Rubin have got some very good individual players who can hurt teams and they’ve got the ability to rotate their side around just like we have.

“It’s going to be a case of being ready for anything, and hopefully we will be.”