Jewell wants top-two finish

BEATING Ipswich Town today would ensure Wigan move up at least one place and a step nearer to the automatic promotion manager Paul Jewell still believes they can achieve, writes Derek Davis.

BEATING Ipswich Town today would ensure Wigan move up at least one place and a step nearer to the automatic promotion manager Paul Jewell still believes they can achieve, writes Derek Davis.

Both teams are nine points adrift of leaders Norwich and seven behind second-placed West Brom in one of the tightest promotion races for years.

And with games against three of the top four still to come for last season's Second Division champions – including the leading pair – the Latics boss reckons there is everything to play for

Jewell said: "We haven't given up hope of getting automatic promotion although it's not something I tend to talk about.


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"I know if we go on a decent run – something we are capable of doing – then we can do it.

"While we have been disappointed with the results at home recently, we haven't been losing too many games.

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"I'm pleased with what the players have been doing here and the progress the club is making. Whatever happens this season, we want to be even stronger next year.

"We are doing well at the moment because this is a tough division whatever some people will tell you.

"It has been suggested the standard isn't as high.

"But I disagree with that because there are some really good teams in Division One.

"If you look outside the top six, there's West Ham, who have too many good players not be in the final shake-up. Cardiff are considered a good side too while there is Reading who have seen it and done it in the last couple of years."

With sports company boss Dave Whelan backing them Wigan are one of the few clubs who have been able to buy players, although suggestions that they are buying their way to promotion rankles with Jewell.

Comments in that vein by Burnley boss Stan Ternent brought this response by the Wigan boss. He said: "I had to laugh when I saw Stan's quotes about us being the Chelsea of the First Division.

"That is just not true because we have only really added one player to the squad since we came up. We brought Geoff Horsfield here earlier in the season, and then when he went again, we bought Jason Roberts.

"That is the one permanent outfield addition so it's wide of the mark to say we've been spending a lot of money.

"There are a lot of clubs in this division who have spent more money over the years."

But they have been able to buy Jason Roberts from West Brom after he returned from a loan spell at Portsmouth who wanted to keep him.

While Alan Mahon's move is basically a free transfer, they will still have to stump up in the region of £1.75million in wages after taking over his 18-month contract and compensation to Blackburn should they win promotion.

Mahon is the big addition to the squad which has struggled on the left –hand side. But with no suspensions or injury worries, Wigan are able to field their strongest side, although Lee McCulloch has struggled with a cold this week and is still likely to be on the bench.

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