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Wigan Athletic's Chris McCann eyeing up promotion

26 February 2014

By Tony Leighton

It's deja vu for marathon man Chris McCann in a match-packed Wigan Athletic season that is uncannily similar to the stamina-sapping 2008/09 campaign that the 26-year-old midfielder had with his previous club Burnley.

McCann helped the Clarets achieve long Cup runs and, ultimately, promotion to the Premier League in a Play-Off Final that was the club's 61st game of the season.

This time round the Latics, who the Irish midfield man joined from Turf Moor last summer, are also aiming for promotion along with Cup success.

They currently sit seventh in the Sky Bet Championship table and, even if they were to lose next week's FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester City, they would end up playing 62 matches if like Burnley they reach the Play-Off Final.

McCann told "There are so many similarities to that fantastic season I had with Burnley, and hopefully it can end with promotion.

"As it showed with Burnley, when you get on the sort of roll we're on right now you just can't wait for the next match even though they're coming thick and fast.

"You've got that feel-good factor around the club, you're running on adrenalin and tiredness doesn't seem to affect you - you just want to get on the pitch and play."

The Latics have been getting on the pitch and playing opponents off it in recent weeks, winning six and losing just one of their last eight League and Cup games.

They have recovered quite superbly from a long run of defeats towards the end of 2013, the adverse results leading to the departure of manager Owen Coyle and the arrival at the DW Stadium of former Brentford boss Uwe Rosler.

Rosler's first match in charge was also Wigan's last outing in the Europa League, knocked out through defeat at Slovenian club NK Maribor in mid-December.

But in the 17 Championship and FA Cup games since, 10 have been won and only two lost, in the process the Latics climbing from 14th in the table - and six points above the relegation zone - to within a single point of the Play-Off places.

McCann said: "When the new manager came in he breathed new life into us after we'd had a difficult first few months of the season.

"After the club's relegation there were a lot of changes in the squad, so new players like me had to settle in and it wasn't easy to gel as a team, especially with all the travelling in the Europa League and having to play catch-up on fixtures.

"When the new manager came in we went back to basics, concentrated on our own game instead of worrying about how opponents played and got ourselves into a good, solid team shape that's serving us really well."

Just how well the Latics are going will be severely tested by their next two opponents, fifth in the table Nottingham Forest in the Championship on Saturday then Premier League title chasers Manchester City in the FA Cup eight days later.

After relegation from the top flight at the end of last season, the top priority at the DW Stadium is to get straight back - but having also lifted the FA Cup with a shock victory over Manchester City in the final, they want to keep that crown.

McCann said: "We've got a massive couple of weeks coming up, but we're playing with great confidence and we'll going into each game feeling we can win.

"Forest are six points above us, so taking three points off them would keep us pushing towards the Play-Off places as well as making it five wins in a row.

"And if we could beat City at the Etihad Stadium that would be a fantastic achievement. They'll be big favourites, especially as they beat us 5-0 at their place in the Capital One Cup earlier in the season.

"But they've got the Capital One Cup Final against Sunderland this Sunday, then three days after playing us they've got the second leg of their Champions League tie against Barcelona. So they've got lots on their plate, and that could help us.

"And in any case, our club are rightly proud to have won the FA Cup for the first time last season and there's no way we're going to give it up lightly.

"We want to go as far as we possibly can in the competition, never mind the games stacking up - and the same goes for winning promotion."

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