12:32 15 February 2012
By Latics Staff
Final thoughts from Coyle, Holt and Berdyev before
Owen Coyle, Grant Holt and Rubin Kazan Head Coach Kurban Berdyev have all given their final thoughts ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash at the DW Stadium, with all three anticipating a tough, but enthralling encounter.
Coyle revealed that striker Holt will make the starting eleven for the first time since the end of August after recovering from a knee injury, and is hoping for another typically European performance from his team.
He said; “We’ll have a similar squad to choose from as we did against Blackpool at the weekend, but with Grant (Holt) coming through that game, and the training since, he’ll be in the starting line-up for us.
“Marc-Antoine Fortune is the other positive; he too came off the bench against Blackpool and is looking strong once again, so little by little we’re getting stronger once again.
“Both performances so far in this competition have been terrific in different ways, and on Thursday night we’ll need to show those standards once again.
“Rubin Kazan are a fantastic side and favourites for the group, but we have an opportunity to go above them on Thursday and we certainly believe we have the quality to win the game.
“Rubin are a side with tremendous European pedigree, as they showed in reaching the final eight of the competition last year, but playing these teams are an exciting challenge for the players and the fans who have been brilliant in getting behind us all season.
“We want to progress from this group, and in order to do that we’ll need two big performances in the next two games against Rubin Kazan.”
Holt, meanwhile, is anticipating making his European debut and whilst much has been said about the quality Latics’ Russian opponents possess, the 32-year-old says Latics too have much strength to call upon:
“We know all about the quality we’ll face on Thursday, and in two weeks’ time out in Russia. But when you look around our squad you see players who are used to playing against the best at international level, and have done so in the Premier League.
“We know what kind of approach is needed for these two games, but most importantly we’re excited about the challenge and can’t wait for Thursday.
“It’s been frustrating for me to miss the last two group games, having suffered an injury just as I was finding my feet at the club.
“But that has given me the chance to take a step back, view the games differently and learn from them. I came here for a challenge and playing in Europe was a big factor in that decision – I can’t wait to get out there now and get involved.”
The last word came from Rubin’s Head Coach Berdyev, now in his twelfth year at the club and one of the longest serving managers in Europe. Rubin have eased through their first two games of the group phase, but the Turkmenistan-born coach believes this will the most difficult game for his players, saying:
“This will be the toughest game for us so far in the competition. We have been to some of the recent Wigan Athletic games and I can see clearly that this is a team who work hard for each other on the pitch, and has the quality and experience to do well in the competition – for me they are definitely one of the favourites to qualify from the group.”