Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has challenged his players to earn their places in his FA Cup final team by dragging the club out of relegation trouble.
The 18th-placed Latics head into tomorrow's Barclays Premier League clash with Tottenham at the DW Stadium knowing defeat could leave them in desperate trouble.
However, the bullish Spaniard is confident the prospect of the club's May 11 meeting with Manchester City at Wembley can galvanise a squad he believes deserved more than it got in defeats at City and West Ham in its last two games.
Martinez said: "The players have been very focused on the league. Their performances have been phenomenal.
"Arguably, the games at Manchester City and West Ham were our two most dominant performances away from home. You shouldn't just judge football on results.
"If they want to play in the FA Cup final, that comes through very good performances in the league."
Wigan's task will be made no easier by the fact that Spurs will arrive only a point adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea and dreaming of Champions League qualification.
Martinez's men will run out knowing Aston Villa and Sunderland, who meet at Villa Park on Monday evening, as well as Newcastle and Stoke, will be watching intently and hoping they slip to a third successive defeat.
The Black Cats have rallied superbly under new manager Paolo Di Canio, beating the Magpies and Everton in their last two games, although Villa boss Paul Lambert, a disciple of the Italian's predecessor Martin O'Neill, has warned his opposite number that the job is far from done.
He said: "They are still bang in it. I think Paolo would say that himself."
Newcastle, like their neighbours and Stoke, go into the weekend sitting on 37 points and knowing one more win could be enough to end their fears and in the Magpies' case, the opportunity to secure it comes against a Liverpool side deprived of the services of main threat Luis Suarez.
However, manager Alan Pardew will be taking nothing for granted as he attempts to repeat the victory he recorded over the Reds in his first game at the helm in December 2010.
Pardew said: "We have had good games against Liverpool - all the games we have played, we have played well and we have had two strong results here recently.
"But this is probably more important than those games, and there is probably a little bit of extra pressure on us and we need to be able to deal with that."
Stoke will look to cement their place in the top flight at home to Norwich, who are a point better off, while victory for Southampton over West Brom would ease them past the 40-point mark.
West Ham did just that with last week's win over Wigan ahead of their trip to deposed champions Manchester City tomorrow, and Everton will attempt to bounce back from last weekend's defeat at Sunderland as they host Fulham.
Bottom two Reading and QPR meet at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday knowing defeat for either would prove fatal while even a draw would at best simply delay the inevitable.
- More about:
- Wigan Athletic