Coyle fancies big Euro showdown
Wigan boss Owen Coyle fancies a shot at a continental giant and wants his team to earn a place in the knock-out stages of the Europa League on Thursday night.
The Latics have acquitted themselves well during their first foray into European football and sit second in Group D with two matches remaining, heading into a clash with Belgians Zulte Waregem at the DW Stadium.
Victory over Zulte, with whom they shared a goalless draw in their opening match, would secure qualification for Wigan providing Maribor do not beat table-toppers Rubin Kazan.
Manager Coyle said: "We're the only second-tier team operating in the Europa League and we have a fantastic chance with two games to go to qualify for the knock-out stages, which would be an incredible achievement. We want to do everything in our power to try and achieve that goal.
"We want to stand toe to toe with some good players and good teams. We've done that to this point but we want to take that to the next stage.
"The incentive is there not only for ourselves but also Zulte Waregem, because it could be a Milan, an Ajax, a Napoli - there's going to be some fantastic teams coming out of the Champions League never mind the quality that's already in the Europa League.
"For us to be able to reach that 32 would be a great achievement but we're going to have to go and earn it. This is a very good side, very attack-minded, they've got some terrific players."
Wigan will know before kick-off whether they can book their spot on Thursday because Rubin Kazan meet Maribor in an early match.
The Russians have been the class act of the group but Wigan put up a good fight in both their matches against Rubin, drawing at home and going down to a narrow loss away.
In contrast, Rubin recorded heavy wins against both Zulte and Maribor, who Wigan visit in their final group match next month.
Coyle said: "The players will certainly know the outcome of the game between Rubin and Maribor but regardless of what that result is our destiny is in our own hands.
"After four games in the group we were disappointed to lose our unbeaten European record last time out in Kazan - it sounds brilliant that doesn't it. We want to get going again and the players have shown they're very much up for the challenge."
Wigan will also be looking to begin another unbeaten home run after losing at the DW Stadium for the first time this season against Brighton on Saturday.
That left Coyle's side 11th in the Championship table, four points off a play-off place with a game in hand.
Thursday's match will be the Latics' 22nd of the season and the first in a run of 12 matches in less than six weeks.
There looks set to be a new face in the squad for Saturday's match against Derby, with 20-year-old Manchester United striker Will Keane on the verge of completing a loan move.
Coyle said: "I'd be very surprised if that's not concluded in the next day.
"I spoke again with (United manager) David (Moyes) yesterday just before they were flying off to Germany. We're both happy in terms of how it proceeds from a football perspective."
Coyle confirmed, though, that Aston Villa have recalled winger Marc Albrighton.
The 24-year-old played four matches for the Latics after joining a month ago and Wigan had hoped to hang onto him.
Coyle said: "If he goes back to Aston Villa and plays in the first team then great; if he's left kicking his heels then I think he'll be as frustrated as the rest of us because he certainly made an impact at Wigan Athletic and would have continued to do so."
Albrighton would have have been ineligible for Thursday's game. Coyle expects to make four or five changes to freshen the side up but Lee Nicholls will keep his place in goal because Scott Carson is still recovering from an ankle problem.