Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Saturday February 23 2008
Wigan v Rams - Preview
It`s getting desperate for the Rams at the foot of the table but a victory at the JJB Stadium today will give the club heart and after a number of improved performances it could be the jolt in the arm the club and Coach Paul Jewell is looking for.
Wigan sits in 16th place in the Premiership on 23 points, and if the Rams are to pull off the 'Great Escape` a victory is vital.
It will be an emotional return for Jewell this week, the former Latics manager returns to the JJB Stadium for his first visit back to the Lancashire club he guided to the Premier League back in 2004/05.
'It is not about Paul Jewell it is about Wigan against Derby,' Jewell told Sky Sports. 'It is a massive game for Wigan as well. They will see it as another to get three points in their bid for survival.'
'I think Wigan is a brilliant club. If they can stay in the Premier League this time - and I think they will - I am sure Dave Whelan (chairman) will look to progress the club even further.'
'I would really be gutted if Derby and (ex-club) Wigan went down. That would be a double-whammy for me.
'You don't work at a place for six years without developing an affinity, and the same goes for Bradford.
'But I think they will stay up. With the players there now, they will fancy their chances. I feel 36 points will be more than enough to stay up.'
Wigan boss Steve Bruce hopes for an improvement against the Rams. He said: "'We've taken something like 15 points from the last 12. If we do that again I am convinced we will be safe.
'This is one of the games we have to target. The biggest disappointment for me has been that while we have picked up big points against the top-10 opposition, we have not against teams at the bottom.
'It has been a tough time for Derby but they've shown a bit of resilience under Paul Jewell in the last few weeks and we can't take anything for granted.'
Another Rams player makes a return to Wigan tomorrow is keeper Roy Carroll. He will be looking to put one over one of his old clubs tomorrow.
He made 170 appearances in his four years with Wigan before a £2.5m move to Manchester United in July 2001, just after Jewell became Latics' boss.
'Three points up there would be fantastic for us and, from my point of view, it will be very interesting to go back,' said Carroll.
'I haven't been there since I left so it will be nice to play against them again.'
In team news Jay McEveley is poised to return for the game after a seven-week lay-off with a knee injury while captain Robbie Savage plays after his bruised foot healed. Also Hossam Ghaly is back after being ineligible to face Tottenham last time out.
Wigan expect striker Emile Heskey to be fit to lead their attack despite his recent back trouble but midfielder Ryan Taylor (rib injury) is ruled out. Erik Edman could come into contention after recovering from a calf problem.
Wigan (from): Kirkland, Melchiot, Koumas, Boyce, Scharner, Kilbane, Valencia, Palacios, Brown, Olembe, Heskey, Bent, King, Granqvist, Bramble, Agahowa, Edman, Figueroa, Sibierski, Skoko, Pollitt.
Derby (from): Carroll, Leacock, Moore, Todd, Stubbs, McEveley, Lewis, Edworthy, Savage, Fagan, Pearson, Jones, Miller, Earnshaw, Ghaly, Villa, Robert, Price, Barnes, Sterjovski.
Referee - Alan Wiley (Burntwood, Staffordshire)
Date:Saturday February 23 2008
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