Wigan Athletic: The 12th Man - 'With each passing day, there’s less and less reason to focus on what could go wrong, and every reason to focus on what will go right...'

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Our panel of Wigan Athletic experts take stock during the last international break of the campaign – and dare to dream about what lies ahead...

Matt Auffrey:

We’ve arrived at the final international break of the season and, after nine consecutive weeks of non-stop weekend and midweek fixtures, it’s fair to say this break is well deserved for all of us. We’ve entered our two-week hiatus on quite the high note as well, after Saturday’s clinical performance against Morecambe. After losing to Sunderland at the end of February, we’ve won four of five league matches in March, with the only non-winning result being a crucial draw at MK Dons. Multiple first-team players have recently completed suspensions and Jordan Cousins, who has been injured since December, could soon make his way back into the first-team squad for April. Josh Magennis and Stephen Humphrys have considerably strengthened their strike partnership over the past few matches, and our defensive back three of Whatmough, Tilt, and Kerr have recently put in some of their best performances of the season. I'm very satisfied with the state of our squad now. The league table is also looking as attractive as it has looked in quite some time, as Rotherham’s shock loss to Shrewsbury brought us within one point of top of the table with two games in-hand. Despite fourth position Plymouth winning five matches in a row, and third position MK Dons not having lost in 12 matches, no side has been able to dethrone us from the automatic places of the table, because our own form has been so stellar. We’ve had many reasons to be anxious and doubtful about our own prospects all season. We’ve dealt with breaking in new players, injuries, out-of-form strikers, tough fixture stretches, exhausting fixture stretches, and the near-death of a player during training to top it all off. We’ve made it to this point in the season as one of the few teams across the football pyramid that control their own destiny in their quest for a league title. With each passing day, there’s less and less reason to focus on what could go wrong, and every reason to focus on what will go right. The month of April is fitting to be one of our busiest yet. Nine league fixtures will be the most we’ve played in a single month this season. Our squad will have to be as locked in and focused as much as any other point in the season. Yet, at this very moment, all we can do is rest, reflect, and recharge. Eight gruelling months are now behind us. One exhilarating month lies ahead of us.

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The Latics players grab a drink during their warm-weather camp in DubaiThe Latics players grab a drink during their warm-weather camp in Dubai
The Latics players grab a drink during their warm-weather camp in Dubai


Well last Saturday the DW looked like a scene for a war film casualty ward before kick-off! But seriously, well done to all the Joseph's Goal walkers. On to the game, and we cruised to a 4-1 victory over Morecambe, and now a nice break - apart from those on international duty - to rest up before starting again. Many are looking at other teams' results, but let's just worry about ourselves. The rest will take care of itself. Enjoy the weekend and midweeks off, then go again. Stay safe.

Emma Peters:

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First off this week, a massive well done to everyone that took part in this year's Walk4Joseph, and a big thank you to all the lovely people that donated a lot of money, taking the funds raised up to a whopping £30,000 for NKH research! Team Joseph have smashed it out the park! It's been lovely the last couple of days seeing the posts of the players in Dubai chilling out in the sun and (badly) playing golf, having a laugh and just generally looking heartwarmingly happy together. And I couldn't think of a group of lads that deserve it any more than these do. Of course there's a bit of training and hard work involved, but I've been smugly chuckling to myself at the thought of the 'Tics sunning it up abroad mid-season, while Mr Evatt up the road has been mildly panicking about his remaining 'cup finals'. With the home fixture of derby day looming, it couldn't come at a better time for us, fresh from a two-week fixture break thanks to Keane, McClean and Magennis all accepting their international call-ups off the back of a fantastic 4-1 win at home against Morecambe. Four, count them, FOUR different goalscorers saw the 'Tics take another three points at the weekend, keeping us in a very good league position, a solitary point behind Rotherham and three clear of MK in third. By the time the lads are back and we've beaten Bo...apologies, played Bolton...again, we could very well see ourselves sitting pretty back at the top of League One, given Rotherham are to play their Pizza Cup final (come on Sutton!) the following day, meaning no league fixture for them that particular weekend. It's all looking very optimistic for us just now, and there's a certain giddy undertone around Wigan as we approach the remaining few fixtures of this campaign. After the tireless hard work this club has put in over the last 12 months, I - along with I'm sure everyone else - am desperately willing us to see this season out as champions. It's very, very possible, even looking likely, that it will be the case. But either way, this year's potential party in the park will be a special day for everyone involved with Wigan Athletic Football Club. Up the 'Tics!

Sean Livesey:

Nothing is guaranteed, but Wigan Athletic have taken a big stride towards a Championship return in the last week or so. A hard-earned point at Milton Keynes (that really should have been all three), followed by a steady if unspectacular win against Crewe and Saturday's dispatch of Morecambe, sees Latics going into the final run of matches in an outstanding position. All sides had experienced wobbles this season, all of those apart from Rotherham, who were stubbornly hoovering up results like the Noo Noo from the Teletubbies (niche reference for the yoof there). Well Rotherham's invincibility seems to have been broached in recent weeks. A 2-1 home defeat to 10-man MK Dons was followed by a 3-0 home defeat by relegation-threatened Shrewsbury. Momentum is important at this stage of the season and, if Rotherham are beginning to hit a few bumps, it's the ideal time for us to capitalise. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. We're not promoted yet - let alone being favourites for the league title. But if we carry on picking up the results like we have, then who knows what we could achieve this season. Nine matches left and everything is still to play for, beginning with the small matter of Ian Evatt and a visit from the best team in the league next week. We're not there yet but we're getting closer. Let's get the lads across the line.