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CARRICK ON WIGAN CHALLANGE

Posted on 28 November 2005  - 12:00

Michael Carrick believes the team will have to be at their best if we are to return from the JJB Stadium with three points at the expense of Wigan on Saturday.

Michael Carrick believes the team will have to be at their best if we are to return from the JJB Stadium with three points at the expense of Wigan on Saturday.

As has been well documented, Wigan's run of eight wins from nine games - with one draw - has seen them become the unlikely closest challengers to leaders Chelsea. The run was halted by a narrow 3-2 defeat to Arsenal last weekend, but Paul Jewell's side retained second spot in the table - a point clear of Manchester United in third.

"They have surprised a lot of people and are playing really well at the moment, considered Michael, who played twice at the JJB Stadium during his time at West Ham. "They are getting results so you have got to go up there and give them the respect they deserve, but we are still going up there expecting to win.

"I have seen bits and pieces of them and know what they are all about. They have caused top teams problems and you have got to go in there with eyes wide open. We expect them to be at their best and we will have to be at our best to win."

One Wigan player who has very much caught the eye this season has been energetic midfielder Jimmy Bullard - also a star of last term's promotion campaign.

Bullard is a former club mate of Michael's at West Ham and the England international believes the 28-year-old is now realising his potential in the top flight

"The Wig is doing alright, isn't he?" he laughed. "When he left West Ham he went to Peterborough and joined Wigan from there. He has done superb things for them and is one of their main players now.

"There are a few players in that team who people were probably looking at to see if they would make an impact in the Premier League. A lot of them have done that and Jimmy is definitely one of them.

"He was there or thereabouts at West Ham, but you need a break and he didn't get one. He went to Peterborough and showed the right people what he was about. He then got a great move that has worked out well for him.

"As a young player you need that break - whether it be an injury or suspension that lets you in. Realistically, you are not going to get in in place of somebody who is proven otherwise. Sometimes it works out for you, sometimes it doesn't. Kids can look at Jimmy and know that you can go to another place and make it there."