Wigan Athletic boss Owen Coyle believes his side are not being dealt a fair hand with the timing of their clash with Manchester City – and it’s all down to TV demand.
The Latics face their third game in six days when they take on Manchester City in the Capital One Cup tonight.
The Wigan manager wanted more recovery time after facing Zulte Waregem last Thursday and Ipswich on Sunday as he tries to strike a balance between cup success and a promotion push.
However, due to live TV coverage of Manchester United’s home game with Liverpool tomorrow, his side have been forced to play tonight.
Coyle said: “We’ve been harshly dealt with. If you were to equate it to poker, we’ve not been dealt a great hand. We have been asked to play three games in five days, and it’s all been dictated by TV.
“We’re not exactly thrilled, but we have to get on with it. We’re up against an elite club, not only in terms of English football but in Europe.
“I’ve got to make sure players are fresh for the priority of getting back into the Premier League.”
It will be the first meeting between the two clubs since the greatest day in Wigan’s history saw them beat City 1-0 to lift the FA Cup at Wembley in May.
The Scotsman is likely to make several changes as he seeks to use the full depth of his squad to deal with the demands of being in three competitions.
Wigan coped well after their first foray into Europe by beating Ipswich Town 2-0 on Sunday but another game less than three days later is likely to test their resolve still further.
Coyle knows it will be tricky challenge to balance the demands of a promotion push as well as playing a minimum of six matches in the Europa League, defending the FA Cup and playing in this competition.
Marc-Antoine Fortune joined fellow forwards Shaun Maloney and Grant Holt on the side-lines for the Ipswich game and Callum McManaman hobbled off after an hour. None are likely to be risked in against City, meaning Coyle has to deal with a shortage of attacking options once again.
Goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi (shoulder) and defenders Gary Caldwell (hip) and Ivan Ramis (knee) are long-term absentees so the door could be opened for youngsters such as Lee Nicholls, Adam Buxton and Nouha Dicko to start.
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