Joe Garner is hoping Wigan Athletic’s third-round exit from the FA Cup will prove to be a huge blessing in disguise as they fight to secure their place in the Championship.
A wretched run of one win in their last 14 matches has seen Latics slip to 20th place in the division – only four points clear of the drop zone.
With a daunting fixture list coming up, starting this weekend with the visit of Aston Villa, it’s imperative Latics get back to winning ways as quickly as possible.
But Garner says being able to concentrate solely on survival – after the 1-0 FA Cup defeat at West Brom last weekend – will help.
“It’s obviously disappointing to go out of the cup,” he told the Wigan Observer.
“It was a tough game against a good side and it didn’t go our way.
“But it means we can concentrate on the league now and try and push up the table.
“It’s a tough run of fixtures we’ve got coming up.
“But we’re confident as a group we can pick up points – especially at home – to improve the position.”
The disappointing form of late is on stark contrast to the beginning of the campaign, when Latics – full of momentum after winning the League One title last term – flew out of the traps and were in the heady heights of third position in late September.
“It’s a tough, tough league, I think everyone knows that,” Garner acknowledged.
“This club came up from League One last year and it was always going to be a battle to compete in the Championship.
“I thought we started off the season really well, slipped off a bit in recent weeks, and it’s important we get back on it as quickly as possible.
“We’ve started games well and had chances early on in most of the games in recent weeks.
“But we’ve tended to get hit by sucker punches, and at this level it is hard when you go a goal behind against top sides.”
On a personal note, Garner is hoping for a recall against Villa this weekend after being left on the bench at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
The former Ipswich and Preston man had forced his way into being first choice for the lone striking role in recent weeks, with his brace at Swansea on December 28 the only goals Latics have scored in the last seven matches.
“Obviously as a striker it’s always nice to score goals,” Garner added.
“I’ve always been confident I can score goals at this level, it’s something I’ve done before in my career.
“But points for the team are more important and we haven’t been getting enough recently.”