Players focused on survival - Maloney

Shaun Maloney
Shaun Maloney
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SHAUN Maloney is adamant Wigan Athletic’s players will be firmly focused on the Premier League – and not the FA Cup final – when they travel to Manchester City tonight.

Latics are back in action just four days after booking a return trip to Wembley thanks to a 2-0 victory over Millwall in a one-sided semi-final.

Maloney was outstanding against the Lions, scoring the first goal and proving to be a thorn in the side of the Championship outfit. While the Wigan supporters have been basking in the glory all week, Maloney says the players were over their Wembley exploits by the time the coach arrived back at Christopher Park just after midnight.

“We were a bit late getting to bed on Saturday, and then it was up early for training so we didn’t dwell on it too much,” Maloney revealed.

“The fans have obviously been buzzing all week about the final, but for us the cup is done and dusted for a while.

“We’ve got some massive games coming up in the Premier League and we have to maintain our level of performance. We’re obviously excited, but you have to keep a lid on that and it’s straight back to work and preparing for the next game which is Manchester City.”

Latics have seven cup finals to come in the Premier League as well as the FA Cup final, which Maloney says will prevent any loss of focus.

“I don’t think keeping focused will be that difficult, to be honest,” he added.

“As far as we’re concerned, the FA Cup is out of the way and all we’re thinking about is Manchester City on Wednesday night.

“That will be a very tough game, backed up on Saturday by an equally-difficult game at West Ham. There’s not much time to be sitting back and thinking about what we’ve achieved in the FA Cup.

“It’s all eyes on the Premier League and we have to keep our focus.”

Wigan’s victory over Millwall means the Premier League trip to Arsenal on cup final weekend has had to be put back 48 hours to Tuesday, May 14, to be screened live on Sky.

Latics also face Swansea at the DW the Tuesday before Wembley, but Maloney says the fixture pile-up is something they’ll have to deal with.

“There are a lot of clubs down the years that have had to contend with playing Saturday,Wednesday, Sunday, Tuesday, towards the end of a season,” he added.

“But they are usually bigger clubs with bigger squads, so it will be challenge for us to be able to juggle our fixture programme.

“Having said that, you look at the amount of games they play in the Championship, and it really shouldn’t be that much of a conditioning issue playing midweek as well as the weekend.

“The manager has spoken in the past about the strength of the squad at the moment. And we’ll need every member of the squad between now and the end of the season if we are to achieve our goals in both competitions. The schedule’s been pretty intense for the past few months and it’s only going to get harder.”