Owen Coyle is unhappy about his Wigan Athletic side having to travel to Manchester City for Tuesday's Capital One Cup tie only two days after playing on Sunday, describing the scheduling as "ridiculous".
Manchester City also played on Sunday, although they have a somewhat larger squad and were not in action on the previous Thursday, when Wigan made their European debut against Zulte Waregem in Belgium. Faced with three games in three different competitions in the space of six days, Coyle has little option but to make changes.
The Europa League generally creates problems, with its Thursday-Sunday routine, although Coyle blames television interest in the Manchester United v Liverpool tie for the extra pressure on his players. "I have to say it's ridiculous that we've been asked to play on the Tuesday night after playing on Sunday," the Wigan manager said. "We will have played three games in under a week and had just one day of recovery. "I'm not happy about the situation because that kind of programme can easily lead to injuries and we already have enough players on the sidelines.
"But that's the way it is, there's not a lot we could do about it once TV wanted to show Manchester United against Liverpool on Wednesday night. We were dictated to. It just means I'll have to make umpteen changes because I'll have to freshen the squad again."
Wigan's trip to the Etihad sets up a repeat of the FA Cup final they won so memorably in May to earn their place in Europe and leave City trophyless last season. With both Roberto Mancini and Roberto Martínez moving on since then, and Wigan now in the Championship, it would be an even bigger surprise should Coyle's side fare as well this time, particularly if City carry on where they left off against Manchester United on Sunday.
While Manuel Pellegrini's players were earning rave reviews for their performance in the derby, Coyle's were involved in a less spectacular, but still important 2-0 home win over Ipswich, a result that took them into the top half of the table. A second consecutive clean sheet after the scoreless draw in Belgium pleased the man of the match Scott Carson no end.
"I don't think we were at our very best against Ipswich but we defended as a unit and are looking more organised now," the goalkeeper said. "We began the season conceding goals far too easily."
Since the FA Cup final, Wigan have lost James McCarthy, Joel Robles, Antolín Alcaraz and Arouna Koné to Everton, Paul Scharner to retirement and two of their key Wembley performers to the treatment room. Callum McManaman is out with a leg injury and Shaun Maloney needs a scan on his back after experiencing discomfort since his last outing for Scotland, when he scored the winning goal in their victory in Macedonia. Two of Coyle's biggest signings of the summer, Grant Holt and Marc-Antoine Fortuné, are also unavailable, so whatever combination the manager settles on, it is unlikely to be as strong a side as he would wish.
"We have tried to build a squad big enough to cope with the extra games this season," Coyle said. "We have to have a balance and understand that we could be scheduled to play around 60 games this season, so I have to utilise the squad as well as I can. We believe we can make changes that are like for like and not detrimental to the team but playing three games in six days is always going to test you."