Wigan boss Owen Coyle is confident his team can use tonight’s match against NK Maribor as a springboard to a successful Europa League campaign.
The Latics drew their opening match in Group D against Zulte Waregem and Coyle wants his side to build on that success to use home advantage to gain their first ever European victory.
Their Slovenian opponents fell to a disappointing home defeat in their clash with Rubin Kazan, but Coyle knows that is likely to make them more dangerous at the DW Stadium.
He said: “It’s the first home tie. We’ve obviously had the experience of the first European tie for the club against Zulte in Belgium, where we acquitted ourselves very well.
“And what we want to do now is achieve maximum points [on Thursday] night, which would put us in a nice place in terms of the standings in the group.
“But to do that we’re going to have to play very well because they’re a very good side. They changed their coach at the weekend so that brings one or two things that they may change.”
Coyle emphasised the attacking potential that Wigan possess – and despite Maribor’s own threats around goal he believes the Latics have what it takes to take home three points.
“For us, it’s important we get to our standard and perform as we can. We’ve got good players and we’re in the process of building a very good team,” he said.
“Maribor are a dangerous side, there are some real threats in their team, but we’ve watched them recently and are ready.
“We’ve got attacking threat in our side also and will be aiming to win.”
Wigan will be without several key players for their first ever home European tie.
Defenders Gary Caldwell and Ivan Ramis, goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, midfielder Shaun Maloney and strikers Grant Holt and Marc-Antoine Fortune are injured.
Scottish full-back Stephen Crainey has a neck problem and will not feature.
The Latics have struggled to adapt to life in the Championship following their relegation last season but Coyle is sure that they can handle competing on multiple fronts.
“We want to give the fans something to smile about for their efforts this season,” he added. “There will be one or two changes from the Watford game, but a positive team
“We’ve got a lot of games to play these season but they’re all great challenges
“It’s key that the group is excited to compete on two fronts, and everyone wants to play every game.”
Image courtesy of Press Association via YouTube, with thanks.