Wigan Athletic in need of 'mental and physical' break
Leam Richardson admits his Wigan Athletic squad have deserved a couple of days off - mentally as well as physically - given the rare blank weekend.
Latics are without a fixture because of Sunderland's commitments in the Papa John's Trophy final at Wembley.
Meaning Richardson has been able to allow weary bodies and minds a well-earned breather ahead of Tuesday's trip to second-bottom AFC Wimbledon.
"We've had a couple of days off, and the lads have needed that," he said.
"Some of the lads didn't have a pre-season last summer, they hadn't been playing regularly before they came here.
"And they've come together here, and been asked to take on a demanding schedule, with Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday for most of the season.
"For any fully-fit senior pro, that is not easy, so for some of our lads it has been an additional challenge.
"They've more than deserved this mini break - mentally as much as physically.
"But over the weekend we'll be looking to regroup and fully focus on next Tuesday."
Latics will travel to South London looking for a third win on the bounce for the first time this season.
And with back-to-back clean sheets underpinning the wins over MK Dons and Plymouth, Richardson admits the familiarity and understanding at the back is a major reason for the upturn in fortunes.
"You can do as much coaching and tactical work as you want," he added. "And the lads are fully aware of what the job spec is and their individual roles within the team.
"Some of the individual errors we've made this season...of course, nobody means to make them.
"But in any elite sport, it's not good, and you need to cut them out if you want to achieve what you set out to.
"In the last couple of games, we've done that, and the performances have mirrored the results, which is what you want."