Next Up: Wigan Athletic

Friday 10 April 2015 10:30

Fulham host Wigan Athletic on Friday evening at Craven Cottage as the visitors look to mount a great escape.

The opposition

Having relieved manager Malky Mackay of his duties after their 2-0 home defeat to Derby County on Monday, Wigan have now placed former player Gary Caldwell in charge, with Friday night being his first ever game as a manager.

The season started in reasonable fashion under former boss Uwe Rosler and following a 4-0 win over Birmingham City at the end of August they found themselves in mid-table and looking to push on into the Play-Off places. However, that win would turn out to be the last time they have taken three points at the DW stadium this season.

In September the rot started as they picked up just two points in five games and scored only twice, although October gave fans a little optimism as they remained unbeaten in four and recorded an impressive win at Derby County.

The following month they would go five without a win again, picking up just two draws including a 3-3 thriller at the DW against Fulham. Following the 3-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers, Rosler was gone.

Former Cardiff boss Mackay took the reigns but could not turn the club’s fortunes around.  December was a miserable month as they lost all but one of their games, and the poor form continued into the New Year, leaving them seven points from safety come the end of January.

Despite two wins in February against Reading and Blackpool they drifted further from safety, but March provided a little hope for the fans.  Two wins and a draw, including victory at Norwich, saw them cut the gap but back-to-back defeats to start this month leave them facing a tough task to avoid the drop.

The defeats were enough for the new chairman David Sharpe to replace Mackay with Caldwell in a final bid to remain in the second tier.

Team news

Don Cowie, Emyr Huws and Grant Holt remain long-term injuries but Caldwell has a fully fit squad otherwise, with Jermaine Pennant and Leon Clarke both back from injury.

Inside the camp

Gary Caldwell takes charge of his first game in football management on Friday and says his side will still take a positive approach to the final five games of the season.

Speaking to, he said: “We are in a really tough place at the moment, but we will approach the next five games with only one thing in mind, to win. After that, we will assess where we are and move on.”

"Having played here in the great survivals of the Premier League era I believe that nothing's impossible.

"There were times when we were down and out. I think of the run we went on when we beat Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal – they are things that at the time seemed like miracles.

"It can happen and we still believe it can."

Player to watch

James McClean: The Republic of Ireland international was born in Northern Ireland and started his footballing career in his homeland with Institute of the Irish Premier League. He made just one substitute appearance for them before having his contract mutually terminated so that he could join Derry City and it was there that he was spotted by Sunderland. The winger joined the Black Cats in the summer of 2011 for £350,000 and his performances in the Premier League that season were enough to earn him an international call-up in 2012. The 25-year-old was part of Ireland’s European Championship squad that summer. McClean was a regular in the top flight the following season. The wideman made the step down to the Championship when Wigan completed a reported £2m move for him the following year, and he was a regular in the side that missed out in the Play-Offs last season under Rosler. The midfielder is Wigan’s top scorer this term with six goals and provides pace down the flanks. McClean is known for his power and direct running and is not afraid to get stuck into a challenge.

Marathonbet match odds

Fulham: 33/25

Draw: 12/5

Wigan: 12/5

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