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Monday 23 April 2018

Coyle keen to face a big club in Europa

Wigan Athletic manager Owen Coyle. Picture credit: Dave Howarth/PA Wire
Wigan Athletic manager Owen Coyle. Picture credit: Dave Howarth/PA Wire

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 tonight.

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 of Russia.

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.

"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.

"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."

Wigan will know before kick-off whether they can book their spot tonight 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: "After four games in the group we were disappointed to lose our unbeaten European record.

"We want to get going again and the players have shown they're very much up for the challenge."

Meanwhile, 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). 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.

3WIGAN v ZULTE WAREGEM, BT SPORT 1, (KO 8.05)

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