Bruce hails resilient Latics

21 February 2009 06:38
Wigan boss Steve Bruce hailed his side after they held Middlesbrough to a goalless draw at The Riverside.

The game produced precious few chances as the Latics earned a creditable point which keeps them seventh in the table, with 35 points from 26 games.

Bruce lost key players Wilson Palacios and Emile Heskey in the transfer window, while hamstring injury victim Antonio Valencia is also out for three weeks and the Latics boss admits it will take time for his side to regain their cutting edge.

He told Sky Sports: "I thought the longer it went on, I thought we were the ones who were going to nick it.

"They are obviously under a little bit of pressure at home, had to put people forward.

"But it is going to take a little bit of time for us. We have lost half a team and we have brought five new players in. It's going to take time a little bit to adjust but I can't but not compliment them on their resilience and their effort is terrific and their work-rate is terrific.

Cutting edge"We just need a little bit of a cutting edge - we have lost that a little bit - without the likes of Palacios and Heskey and Valencia, obviously we are going to lose that cutting edge."

The Latics are now almost safe, with Bruce hailing his side's 'fantastic' achievement.

He said: "They have done extremely well, you can see why. They have come up here and in the second-half the longer it went on I can't remember my goalkeeper really having much to do so all credit to them."

Bruce also defended Lee Cattermole after the former Boro player's first-half challenge on Didier Digard saw the Frenchman taken to hospital with a thigh injury.

He was widely booed by the home fans but the replays appeared to show it was a perfectly good challenge.

"The one thing that we don't want to see anywhere in football is anybody stretchered off but when someone tackles you like that, it was a perfectly fantastic challenge as far as I am concerned.

Compliment"But obviously the crowd - and Lee Cattermole coming from here - wanted to get after him. I have to pay a compliment to the referee - I thought he handled the situation very, very well and for me it was a perfectly good tackle," added Bruce, although he had not seen it on replays.

He also paid tribute to Cattermole for keeping his head under intense pressure from the crowd.

"To be fair to the kid after that, he did extremely well to keep hold of himself and all credit to him."

As for the rest of the season, Bruce concluded: "We are Wigan Athletic, we are always going to be looking over our shoulders but to come to the end of February to be seventh is a terrific achievement.

"We have just got to try and finish it off now and get two or three wins if we can, but we seem to be drawing a few of late.

"But as I said, we've made some changes, it will take a bit of time and if we can kick on that'll be fantastic."

Source: SKY_Sports