Warren Joyce believes his Wigan Athletic players have to learn how to ‘see out games better’ – or risk paying the ultimate price at the end of the season.
Latics travel to Wolves on Tuesday night looking to reduce the five-point gap to safety, following Saturday’s last-gasp heartache at Fulham.
The visitors had looked on course to pick up a positive result at Craven Cottage, leading 2-1 heading into the last 20 minutes, only for the home side to nick it at the death thanks to Neeskens Kebano’s 94th-minute winner.
“Unfortunately this is part of your development as a footballer,” said the Latics boss.
“There’s not a lot of players in the squad who have played at this level before.
“It’s not just about skill and pace at this level – it’s also being able to manage games, and see games out better.
“We watched the Wolves-Newcastle game coming home from Fulham, and we learned a lot.
“Newcastle didn’t play particularly well, but they still ended up winning 1-0, because they’ve got a lot of experienced players, who know how to win.
“We’ve obviously got some good, experienced professionals here, who’ve played at a higher level, who know how to do that.
“But we’ve also got a number of younger players, who are new to this league, who can match it with the best but just have these lapses in concentration, in terms of seeing games through.
“It’s about learning how to win, knowing how to win, because that’s vital.”
Wigan’s cause at Craven Cottage wasn’t helped the the half-time substitution of goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard, who had sustained a hefty knock in the first half. However, the big Dane should be okay for the Wolves game.
“Jakob will be assessed again before the game, but he should be okay,” revealed Joyce.
“He was recovering well over the weekend, it wasn’t a massive problem.”
Wolves themselves are still on the fringes of the relegation dogfight, standing only six points above the drop zone, despite a massive spending spree last summer.
“They’ve had a topsy-turvy season,” acknowledged the Latics boss.
“They were one of the favourites at the start, with big money spent, players coming in for 8, 10, 12 million.
“But even with all that money, it shows it’s not easy to gel a team together, and they’ve brought players in the last window to supplement that too.
“It’s not going to be an easy game, we’ve got to set out a game-plan to beat them.”