Joyce believes Latics can match best in division

Wigan Athletic boss Warren Joyce insists his side have matched some of the best sides in the Championship despite their lowly league '¨position.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 17th February 2017, 1:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 12:16 pm
Jake Buxton (left) who scored Latics' late winner at Wolves in midweek
Jake Buxton (left) who scored Latics' late winner at Wolves in midweek

The former PNE 
midfielder’s Latics are 22nd in the Championship ahead of hosting Preston North End at the DW Stadium on Saturday.

They can move out of the bottom three with a victory, having won 1-0 at Wolves on Tuesday night.

Prior to that Latics had matched Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich and Fulham 
only to pick up one point from three tough games.

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“We’ve certainly not come off second best in any of them,” said Joyce, who made more than 200 appearances for the Lilywhites.

“We could probably have come away with nine points – and we got one.

“We certainly weren’t over-awed, we weren’t overrun, we dealt with all the problems that were thrown at us.

“We were dealt a few kicks in the teeth, and it took a lot of character to go to Wolves and stand up to them and their backing in the stadium.

“They’re desperate to get points themselves, and I was delighted with the way we faced that challenge.”

Joyce was full of praise for Wolves matchwinner Jake Buxton, the experienced 
defender heading home three minutes from time for a vital three points.

“We showed the lads a 
little video clip before the game, and we asked leaders to show themselves from all areas,” said the Wigan boss.

“And it didn’t have to be Buxton, and Stephen 
Warnock, and Jussi Jaaskelainen, and David Perkins, and Shaun MacDonald.

“It could be one of the younger lads coming out of the pack, and doing something special.

“But Jake’s certainly been a leader and a top pro since I’ve been at the football club and he got his just desserts for the way he conducts himself.”

Matt Gilks is set to make his second Wigan start in goal on Saturday after his move from Rangers.

He replaced injured Stoke loanee Jakob Haugaard at 
Fulham before starting against Wolves, the Dane set to be out for several weeks with an elbow problem.

Latics have not had much luck with goalkeepers this year having seen initial No.1 Adam Bogdan return to parent club Liverpool after a cruciate knee ligament injury curtailed his season-long loan.

Against Wolves Gilks made two fine saves either side of Buxton’s goal to preserve a precious clean sheet and a big three points.

“Matt was there when he was needed,” said Joyce.

“He’s an experienced 
goalkeeper and they were two very good saves against Wolves.

“It was tough for him to come in the way he did for Jakob on Saturday, even more so given the fact he hadn’t played many games at Rangers.

“To step in and do what he’s done, a good job for the team, is great.

“He’s another good bloke, someone you want in and around the dressing room.”