Wigan Athletic players granted time off - with a message from the manager

Shaun Maloney says his Wigan Athletic players have more than earned a few days off during the international break.
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Latics have a fortnight's break in the gruelling League One campaign due to having seven players called up by their countries.

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With a record of five wins, a draw and only one defeat since the last international break, Maloney says his troop can be happy with their efforts.

Shaun Maloney has been happy with Latics' record over the last few weeksShaun Maloney has been happy with Latics' record over the last few weeks
Shaun Maloney has been happy with Latics' record over the last few weeks
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"We'll give the players an extra few days off, they've been very, very good these last few weeks," he said.

"And I still think there's a lot of things we can get better at.

"I was pleased with the way we defended at Cheltenham, but I still feel there's ways we can use the ball better, especially when teams go man for man.

"Even against Peterbortugh, wenn we played very well, there's ways in which we can get even better.

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"My message to the players is a massive well done for the last few weeks, but we have to be ready to go again.

"This league is relentless and, if we're to get away from the bottom four, we need to play as well as we have done in the last block of games for the next block."

With a midweek EFL Trophy tie against Tranmere still to negotiate, Latics signed off their league programme with a battling 1-1 draw at Cheltenham.

"Because of the way the game went, there was very little football, or very few passages of real football or positional play," Maloney added.

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"It's a side of the game that probably a lot of our players - at 19, 20, 21 - haven't experienced before.

"Again, I saw a big step up in terms of that from a number of our players.

"And these games are really tough, where the balls are constantly coming in from their goalkeeper.

"It's hard to stop those balls coming in, you just have to defend them well enough.

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"On the vast majority of times, we did, and I felt the scoreline was just about right."

Latics have 18 points from their 17 matches played – including an eight-point deduction - to lie two points above the relegation zone.