Wigan 'Tesco' Athletic v Sunderland: Match preview

Brucey returns to his old club

Brucey returns to his old club

A bit of a pivotal game this weekend. It isn’t going to be the ‘be all and end all’ cup final match that’ll decide the fate of the club for the whole season, but it is pretty important in the circumstances.

There’s that old saying that if you’re in the relegation zone at Christmas you’ll be fighting to stay out of it come May, but that isn’t one that I necessarily subscribe to, and besides, there’s a whole month before the traditional mid-point reckoning.

The reason I cite this as a (kind of) crucial match is the events of last week. Should we emerge victorious, White Hart Lane shall be forgotten and we can all get on with our lives (at least until the next 9-1 drubbing, which hopefully won’t come within my lifetime).

I dread to think what’ll happen should Wigan lose. It’d probably mean a drop into the bottom three, which will bring out the inevitable moaners ranting on about how our manager isn’t up to the job and we should move back to Springfield Park and get more fixture cards in the club shop or whatever.

I shall ignore all that, though, because today I am going to steer away from the negatives and try to project some positive influence upon the club by way of talking up our chances. First up, the Premier League’s third top goalscorer, one Darren Bent, could well be ruled out with a hamstring injury.

His replacement, David Healy, often struggles to be as prolific at club level as he is on the international stage. 35 goals in 78 games for Northern Ireland suggests a decent return, but he hasn’t really troubled the scorers as much for Fulham or Sunderland since his 2007 move from Leeds United.

Frazier Campbell: in line for a start?

Frazier Campbell: in line for a start?

The Black Cats’ other frontman, Kenwyne Jones, will definitely miss out due to suspension. Should Bent fail to be fit for Saturday’s clash, former Manchester United man Fraizer Campbell is likely to get his chance up front. Remember Campbell, who so very nearly came to Wigan last January? Well, it seems Bruce finally got his man.

For such a young man, Campbell has had his fair share of clubs, most notably Belgian side Royal Antwerp, where he bagged 21 goals in 33 games. Other loan spells included Tottenham and Hull, where he impressed in the 2006/07 season. He has yet to break into the Sunderland first team, but the game against Wigan could be his big opportunity to make inroads.

As for the Latics, it’s hard to see Erik Edman keeping his place after last week’s performance. A good job, then, that Maynor Figueroa should be fit and ready (pending a fitness test tomorrow) having spent last Sunday on the bench at White Hart Lane. Otherwise, I don’t think there’ll be many changes in personnel as there are no injury worries for Martinez.

The Gaffer insists the reaction to last week’s ‘hurtful experience” has been very good, and that it’s important the fans get behind the team for Saturday’s match at the DW to put the Tottenham result behind us.

When you’re really hurt, you get closer to people around you, you work even harder. We always had fairly high standards in training, but this week there’s been a very positive reaction, and that’s very pleasing.

The other side is that there’s a certain anxiety to get out on the pitch. The next game couldn’t come any quicker, and in that respect it’s what we all need – to see that care, that responsibility. — Roberto Martinez to Latics’ Official website

I would second that – I’ve been itching for this game to come all week, perhaps more so than any other this season. Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe I have to nip to Tesco for a bottle of milk.

Image of Campbell courtesy Vic.t at Flickr.

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