There’ll be a sell-out away end at the DW Stadium this weekend and Preston North End manager Simon Grayson is looking to give them reason to celebrate.
Impressive performances and home wins against Brentford and Birmingham City started the week positively for the gaffer and his troops and he admits that this means his team selection this weekend will be one where mental as well as physical factors will have to be considered.
“Wigan have also played three games in a week,” he said ahead of the clash. “We have had two physical games, which you would expect in the Championship, but the players are playing with confidence.
“One or two came through fitness tests to play on Tuesday night and we have some bumps and bruises from Tuesday night, but we have some players who are coming off the bench and affecting the game and we also have players who could easily figure strongly in the team and it is nice to have all those options available to us.
“We go there in good spirits and good confidence, but aware of their threats, given that they got a good result against Wolves on Tuesday night.
“Players can get tired both physically and mentally, but when you are winning games the mental side of it disappears and the mental side disappears a little bit, but you have to be very careful that you don’t ask too much of certain players over the next few weeks as it can be detrimental to the team and to the players, who can pick up one or two injuries.
“We have to analyse all these things, but when you have got a team doing well it allows you to have that consistency – but that’s not to say we won’t change it.
“The players are enjoying what they are doing and if you ask them if they want to be rested in a local derby in front of just short of 5,000 travelling fans, I don’t think there would be too many takers!”
The Latics are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the Championship and under the management of former North End favourite Warren Joyce, they have shown the battle spirit to survive, picking up an excellent win at Wolves on Tuesday evening.
“At the top end it’s a scrap for the top two and the Play-Off positions and down the bottom it is also all very tight,” continued Simon. “Teams are getting victories when perhaps they don’t expect to and vice versa. I am not too concerned what is happening at the bottom; it is about what we do week in, week out.
“We know what to expect. I went to watch Wigan last week and they put on a good performance against Norwich and they have some good players.
“They have had a bit of a turnaround in the January transfer window of players coming in that Warren wanted to bring in and their performance against Wolves will give them a lot of confidence about what they can do to go forward.
“There are some big teams down there and they will all be looking over their shoulder and not wanting to end up in those bottom three places. They have got some experience in their squad and some players who are hungry to progress through the leagues, so we have to be aware of that.
“I think it is going to be a cracking atmosphere and hopefully we can put on another performance to keep this run going.”
The PNE chief’s opposite number in the home dugout at the weekend is someone he has a lot of respect for and is well aware of how well drilled they will be for this derby clash.
“I’ve met Warren quite a few times and we have had one or two bounce games against them in the last few weeks - he’s a really nice bloke.
“He did a great job at Manchester United and decided he wanted to go and do the first team level and he is looking to keep Wigan in the Championship. He has done a good job so far, but we will be looking to continue with the form we have been showing.
“There is no better grounding as a couch than to be working at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, so he will have learnt a lot, but he has decided he wants to test himself at first team level and I am sure that he put a lot of hard work in, because he asks a lot from his players and he will put the time and effort in to it, to make that transition successful,” he added.