As Wigan Athletic prepare for a historic first home European match on Thursday night, against NK Maribor, Owen Coyle is planning on making it a night to remember for everyone at the club with a good performance from the players and three valuable points to go towards group qualification.
He said: “After the fantastic experience of our first European fixture against Zulte Waregem two weeks ago, in which we acquitted ourselves extremely well, we want to now take maximum points from our first home tie on Thursday night.
“That will put us in a very strong position as we aim to quality from Group D, but in order to do so we will have to overcome a very good side in NK Maribor.
“They’ve changed their Head Coach in the week which will inevitably bring one or two new factors to the game, but as long as we play to the standards we know we’re capable of and enjoy the occasion, then there’s no reason we can’t win the game.
“We know all about the qualities they have in their team, but on the night it’s all about us and what we can do on the ball to affect the game, which we showed we can do last weekend against Watford.”
Undeterred by the busy fixture list Latics have come through and still have to face, Coyle revealed that the players are excited at the prospect of so many games:
“I’m having to hold players back and make tough decisions in bringing people into the team. Jordi for example is someone who I’ve had to rein in over the past couple of weeks, but he’ll get his opportunity on Thursday and will no doubt be giving 100% to make it a good night.
“We’re all enjoying the freshness of the Europa League and everything that comes with these fixtures, and I’m sure Thursday is set to be a great night in our stadium.
“The fans have backed the players to the hilt from day one since I arrived and I know how much Thursday will mean to them, so I hope it will be a great atmosphere and that they can help the team achieve a good result.”
Jordi Gomez echoed the sentiments of the Manager, and spoke of what it will mean to him to be playing home European football for a club he has now been at for four years:
“This is my fifth season at Wigan Athletic, so to be playing in European football is a very nice feeling after what we achieved last season in the FA Cup.
“Games like Thursday’s, at home, are a fantastic occasion for everyone associated with the club to be excited and proud, and once the game starts it’s up to us as players to make sure we all go home happy.
“The fixture list hasn’t been easy to deal with, but as players we want to play football every day, and with a squad that is getting bigger with players returning from injury means we have the competition and freshness for the Manager to make his decisions from.”