“We’re looking forward to a competitive fixture now – our last game was almost two weeks ago!” Paul Clement looked ahead to a return to action away at Wigan this weekend after the third international break of the campaign.
“Of course, we’re expecting a difficult game. Wigan did really well last season and got promoted… they’re in a stable position in the Championship at the moment and so we expect it to be tough.
“Whether you’re playing a team that’s pushing for promotion or one that’s newly promoted, they’re all very difficult games.
“We always look carefully at the opposition when you’re due to play them. They’re a 4-4-2 team that can mix up their game a bit – they can play from the back and sometimes they go more direct. They have wingers that play wide and that can come inside.
“They’re a tough, physical side, and they are aggressive. It’s important that we match them on that side. Hopefully we can be secure defensively and score some goals up there.
“A big motivation is that they’re just four points ahead of us as we go into the game, and a good away win like the last time we were up in the north east when we played Preston… it’s a similar situation.
“You want to start strong, have a good first half, come in at half-time and make alterations if needed and go out and perform again after the break.
“We have been inconsistent across 90 minutes and the last game against Ipswich was an example of that. We were unrecognisable in the first half but in the second half we did well and were good value… that’s what we want over a full game.”
An important aspect of the break has been in getting the balance right – working hard at the training ground, but also making sure that the players have had a chance to recharge the batteries to go into this heavily-congested winter period in peak condition.
“We’ve been training as normal – and the players had some days off at the weekend,” he continued.
“That’s needed as well – you can’t just train every day. You have to get the right amount of training, the right amount of rest, so that they’re fresh going into the next batch of games. This is a period now where it’s non-stop through to next March.
“It’s important whether you’re a manager, a member of the support staff or a player – getting away from the pressures of the game can help you refresh and recharge so that you’re fully focused when it’s time to get back to work again.
“And the players have been really focused over the last days. We have had three really good sessions so far this week and we’ve got one more on Friday before we head up north. We’re looking forward to the challenges ahead.”