Football - Coyle ready to spring

Wigan manager Owen Coyle is convinced his team can make their hectic season a successful one.

PA Sport
League Cup - Coyle to ring Wigan changes

View photo

Owen Coyle is confident Wigan's heavy schedule will not hamper their promotion push

Thursday's 0-0 away draw with Zulte Waregem in Europa League Group D marked the start of the first continental campaign in the Latics' history, which is adding a minimum of six games to their schedule this term and more if they qualify for the knock-out rounds.

That schedule features 46 Sky Bet Championship matches, and if Wigan's bid for promotion takes them to the play-off final, three more.

They also lost to Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley this season, and have other domestic commitments to come with the Capital One Cup and their defence of the FA Cup.

Coyle emphasised before the Zulte match that his team are ready to embrace the challenge of what 2013-14 brings and after the contest in Bruges spoke about how he has discussed the topic of contending with demanding fixture lists with Norwich manager Chris Hughton.

In 2011-12 Hughton's Birmingham achieved 10 points in their Europa League group, narrowly missing out on qualification for the next round, and made it to the Championship play-off semi-finals as well.

Coyle has also pointed to the 2008-09 season, in which he got Burnley to the last four of the League Cup and promoted to the Premier League via the play-offs, as reason for encouragement about how well Wigan can do this term.

He said: "I have spoken to Chris - he and I get on famously, he is a good pal of mine. Birmingham, as he will tell you, had a relatively slow start and then it picked up.

"We are looking to get right in amongst it as early as we can.

"But it is achievable. We played 61 games the season I got Burnley promoted, so we certainly know about managing players over a number of games and still achieving success. That will stand us in good stead as we go forward."

Coyle has brought a host of new players to Wigan since being appointed as their manager over the summer, and handed one of the fresh arrivals their first Latics start on Thursday night in Nick Powell, the Manchester United midfielder who joined on a season-long loan deal on transfer deadline day.

With two strikers who signed permanent deals with Wigan over the summer in Grant Holt (injured) and Marc-Antoine Fortune (dropped to the bench) not featuring in the first XI, Powell was called upon to initially lead the line against Zulte.

Coyle praised the way the 19-year-old England Under-21 international went about his task and compared Powell to Three Lions pair Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge, both of whom he had on loan during his time as Bolton manager.

He said: "Powell can play there (up front). I wouldn't say it is a position in which you will see the best of him, but I thought he did very well.

"He can play behind the striker or as one of a midfield three, and you can see how pleasing on the eye he is - he ghosts by people, has a great shot and his set-play delivery is terrific.

"There is no doubt he is set for a huge career and as I have done before with a few young players, I will try to furnish him with that confidence and opportunity to play.

"I have been very fortunate to work with Wilshere and Sturridge and Powell is in that mould. I truly believe he will have an outstanding career at the highest level.

"I told him what was going to be asked of him and he did it with no qualms. Coming from Manchester United, he had no quibbles.

"He actually then played out on the right for us. So I was pleased not only with his performance, but also his attitude, which was first-class.

"We know we have a terrific kid as well as an outstanding player."

Next up for Wigan, whose other opponents in Europa League Group D are Russia's Rubin Kazan and Maribor of Slovenia, is a home Championship clash with Ipswich on Sunday before they travel to Manchester City on Tuesday in the Capital One Cup.

View comments (2)