Dougie Freedman believes a derby day success against Burnley could act as the perfect springboard as Wanderers hope to build momentum as they enter the final third of the season.
The Trotters enter this weekend’s clash with near-neighbours the Clarets on the back of a narrow defeat against Watford, as Marvin Sordell’s goal on his former stomping ground wasn’t enough for the Whites.
Freedman, who has been boosted by the return of several long-term absentees, has been encouraged by the side’s recent performances and believes victory on Saturday at the Reebok can give the side a new belief as they enter the final months of the campaign.
“It is a derby that we are very much looking forward to,” Freedman said during his pre-match press conference. “We have done our homework on them in terms of what they do best and maybe one or two weaknesses that we can potentially capitalise on.
“The players want to put a few things right that have gone wrong in sense of the results and they want to keep on performing as well as they have done. I know that we have to believe in ourselves and believe in what we are doing and things will change.
“We are creating plenty of opportunities and looking more threatening with possession. This may be the sort of game we need to turn things around and it is something the lads have been looking forward to all this week in training.
“As a manager we have to approach this game same to any other. It will test our character and mental strength, but we are playing very well. We could do with a bit of fortune in terms of holding onto games and seeing matches out, and if we can do that then I can see us springboarding up the league.
“I think the fans have been terrific throughout my time here and they have seen us play some good football and just not get the result. I am frustrated for them but I think if we can get a couple of results then away we go. We are certainly not too far away.”
Freedman has expressed his joy after witnessing David Wheater and Stuart Holden feature in a behind-closed-doors game at Euxton, and he was quick to highlight the importance of these players.
“We have been missing key players,” the manager added. “Mark Davies, David Wheater, Stuart Holden and Matt Mills have all been missing which is a shame for us and for our fans.
“A few of them came through a practice game earlier this week. Stuart was able to play a couple of 90-minute games now, and he is desperate to get back, but I have got a responsibility to his career and I can’t just throw him in there. He is a top international player, but I don’t want to just throw him in there and put a lot of pressure on him when he is not quite ready yet.
“Both Wheater and Davies are days away. They have been training with us, but it is unlikely that they will be in contention for this Saturday’s game. But next weekend’s fixture against Nottingham Forest is a more likely date for their returns.”