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Friday, January 2, 2009
Bruce turns to fringe players for cup clash

Wigan Athletic manager Steve Bruce has promised Kevin Kilbane, Jason Koumas and Daniel de Ridder a run-out against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup on Monday night.

And Bruce has told the experienced trio to give him "a headache" at White Hart Lane.

With Emile Heskey sidelined with a hamstring injury and Lee Cattermole suspended, the Wigan boss is without two of his best players.

But Bruce wants those on the fringes to rise to the challenge in this third-round tie.

He said: "I have not got the biggest of squads in terms of numbers but there are still a few people I can give a chance to.

"The likes of de Ridder, Kilbane and Koumas have not been starting and this is their opportunity to push for a place in the team and to give me a headache."

Goalkeeper Mike Pollitt looks certain to retain his place between the posts as Chris Kirkland is sidelined with a groin injury with Wigan looking to maintain their impressive league form in this cup clash.

They have won five of their last six Premier League games and jumped to seventh place in the table.

Bruce would love a run in the FA Cup - but believes fate is against him.

The former Birmingham boss said: "I really do not have the best of luck on cup draws. I always get drawn against a big team.

"Every year it's Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United. Being away to Spurs is not the most ideal draw."

In the space of 13 months under Bruce, Wigan have gone from serious relegation contenders to a side pushing for a UEFA Cup place.

He added: "We have reached the halfway point of the league and I am delighted with the position we are in.

"We have had a fantastic December and 2008 has been very good for us. I think for the calendar year we have picked up 52 points which is excellent, especially if you ignore a horrible October.

"Now can we continue that form into the new year? We have given ourselves a great chance but we can not take anything for granted and there is a lot of hard work still to do."

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