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HUGHTON'S NOTES

Posted on 17 February 2006  - 12:00

Chris Hughton gives his assessment of our forthcoming opponents - next up, Wigan at the Lane on Sunday.

Chris Hughton gives his assessment of our forthcoming opponents - next up, Wigan at the Lane on Sunday.

IF YOU look at Wigan's form this season, they are certainly worthy of the position they find themselves in the Premiership and they've achieved it on two counts.

For one, they have a fabulous work ethic - they are very fit and organised - and secondly, they have a lot of quality. The front two are strong and then someone like Jimmy Bullard can produce a bit of magic.

They are very well organised at the back with two very experienced defenders centrally in Arjan De Zeeuw and Stephane Henchoz. Generally when you have players like that, when things are going well they are experienced and when it's not going so well, perhaps they haven't got the legs!

What they have shown is they have got the legs and they have got the experience and that's been a strong part for Wigan this season.

Pascal Chimbonda at right-back has been a wonderful find for the Premiership.

He was at Bastia last season and I'm sure there are plenty of people who wouldn't have heard of him and he's surprised a few in the Premiership.

Wigan are a side that don't give up and they summed that up when we played at the JJB in November.

That was at a time when they had barely made any mistakes and yet in our game they made the mistake for Robbie's opening goal and that was a surprise and gave us a lift.

Just look at their performance in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg at Arsenal a couple of weeks ago. You always felt they were in the game, even when Arsenal had good possession. That sums up their season.

They've got a cup final the week after our game on Sunday and whether or not that affects the side they put out we'll have to wait and see.

Henri Camara is back from the African Nations Cup and in contention, a plus for us is that Roberts is suspended because he's had a fine season. We've all known him for some time and this is the season he's caught the eye the most.

They've generally gone with a 4-4-2 with Chimbonda and Leighton Baines the full-backs. We've spoken about the centre-halves and into midfield, Graham Kavanagh has done well, a player most people will know and he's taken the chance to perform at the top level.

Damien Francis has been there or there abouts and Bullard has played most of the season, giving them energy and workrate down the right and goals. Lee McCulloch has been a good for them as well and Gary Teale has played more regularly of late and newcomer Paul Scharner has made an impact.

Up front it's been Camara and Roberts for most of the season but with Roberts suspended, I'm sure Neil Mellor will come into frame.