'We have got an opportunity'

Alan Curbishley is expecting his team to go all out for victory this afternoon although he concedes that Wigan Athletic will be a tough proposition to crack.

Having experienced a relegation battle last season, the manager is well aware that the hosts will be doing their utmost to kick-start their own survival fight. His counterpart Steve Bruce has added new faces in the transfer window, including striker Marlon King, and also has Chris Kirkland and Emile Heskey buoyed by England calls. "It is a tough situation to be in," Curbishley said. "But I think Brucey realised that when he went in there, he has been pleased with what he has inherited.

"They will be confident," the manager added about a fixture that could be played in difficult conditions, considering the weather in the north-west. "We know everyone is talking about the pitch. It is the least of the worries, we know we have got a game there but we go full of confidence because of our run of results. But that's where it ends because you have got to go out on the pitch and do it."

Wwhen asked about the club's prospects of challenging the leading clubs - particularly given the defensive strength of late, Curbishley said: "We have got an opportunity. We can see the two teams above us. That is what we have been talking about the last couple of weeks. We have managed to bridge that gap and it may be an opportunity to bridge it even more and we will see where it goes.

Curbishley added that he was looking for more up front, although he is well aware that he has got Nolberto Solano, Julien Faubert, Craig Bellamy and Bobby Zamora all ready for or close to a return, while the fit-again likes of Lee Bowyer, Luis Boa Morte, Matthew Etherington and Dean Ashton are getting stronger every week. "We know now that we have got to try and do a bit more. I have asked the attacking players to try and do a bit more for us - create a few more chances and get us a few more goals if they can.

"[Other clubs] have managed to bring freshness into their squads this last week because of the transfer window. I felt that with the players we have got on their way back that will give me the same impetus. That is what I am hoping is going to happen. I get some fresh legs, fresh minds, coming into it in this run in and we will see where it takes us. I am delighted with what they have done but we have got to carry on and see if we can do better."