Boss says group are fully focused ahead of Hillsborough trip.
- Mean defence Wednesday a “hard-working, strong and well-organised unit”.
- Every player is being given a chance to impress.
- Cowie only injury problem ahead of trip to South Yorkshire.
Latics manager Malky Mackay says his side are fully focused ahead of their trip to Hillsborough to face Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
The Scot is taking on his first away assignment as Wigan Athletic boss and he’ll be hoping to build on the 1-1 draw he picked up against Middlesbrough in his first game in charge, against the Owls.
And, despite his confidence in his side’s ability to go and win the game, he knows Stuart Gray’s side will provide a stern test, especially given that they have the fourth best defensive record in the Football League with ten Sky Bet Championship clean sheets to their name already this campaign.
“We go up there with a job to do and we’re fully focused on trying to win the game,” Mackay said. “Number one we’re away from home, Hillsborough is going to be a tough place to go; it always has been.
“Their record tells you that they’re a very hard-working, strong and well-organised unit so that’s something that we’ve got to try and make sure we break down and then stand up to when they come at us.
“Stuart [Gray] has really done well at Sheffield Wednesday, he’s progressed the club over the last two years.
“I’ve watched them a couple of times over the last couple of years and they’re a big powerful and strong unit.
“It’ll be a tough test but it’s one we’re looking forward to,” he continued. “I’m really looking forward to getting up there, it’s a terrific stadium, they always have a good attendance, there’s always a good atmosphere and there’s so much history attached to the stadium and club as a whole.
“We go up there with a job to do and we’re fully focused on winning the game.”
Mackay ran the rule over some of his squad members that didn’t feature against Boro last weekend when Morecambe visited Christopher Park in a development squad fixture.
Andy Delort scored twice for Joe Parkinson’s side with Jordan Flores and Rob Kiernan also on the score-sheet.
And the boss was pleased to see certain members of his squad staking a claim for a place in the squad on Saturday.
“I was delighted that Jim Bentley brought a side across to the training ground,” Mackay added. “We had a really good game on Tuesday afternoon and it gave me the chance to quickly assess the squad or certainly most of the squad within a short period of time.
“It’s an ongoing process and all of the guys are going to have a chance to impress both in training and in certain games to make sure that they stay in the jersey.
“When your forwards score goals it’s good; Andy has had a stop-start period for the start of his career here.
“But he’s coming to a new country, a new language and a new culture so that takes time to settle and we’ve got to understand that and try to help him.”
On the injury front, Mackay says his former Watford and Cardiff City midfielder Don Cowie is his only doubt for the clash with the Owls.
Ali Al Habsi has also returned from his loan spell with Brighton & Hove Albion and Mackay has been full of praise for the work of his backroom staff in ensuring that he has an almost full quota to select from.
“Don Cowie has a back injury but other than that we’re pretty much at full strength,” he explained. “That’s testament to Richard Collinge, our doctor and our medical team in making sure the players do stay as fit as they can be.
“It’s great to have such an experienced goalkeeper back at the club in Ali Al Habsi too, he has played a lot of games here and will be given a chance to show what he can bring to the team.”