Europa League: Wigan defender James Perch counting on European experience
Wigan defender James Perch believes his experience in European football will stand him in good stead on Thursday.
Last Updated: 18/09/13 6:10pm
The 27-year-old is one of few Latics players to have experience in the competition having played for Newcastle last term.
After three years with the Magpies, Perch made the switch to the DW Stadium over the summer and will make an appearance on the continent once again as Wigan make their first venture in European football.
Owen Coyle's men travel to the Jan Breydel Stadium to face Zulte Waregem, currently fifth in the Belgian top flight, and Perch believes his knowledge will be invaluable to Wigan.
"I've played in the Europa League so I'll know a little bit what to expect in terms of refereeing, the opposition crowds and so on," Perch told Wigan Today.
"The players are a lot more technical on the continent, which we'll have to get to grips with, and I found it an interesting challenge.
"There will be an element of surprise that we'll have to contend with, but it probably works both ways.
"It'll be a massive game for us all on Thursday - the players, the management and the fans. Hopefully we can go there and get the three points to get the campaign off to a flying start."
The Latics were 2-0 losers to Leicester on Saturday in the Championship but Perch believes his side have the potential to bring points home on Thursday evening.
"It was frustrating and disappointing," he added. "We can do a lot better than that, especially in the first half, and we let ourselves down.
"I thought the referee was poor - not just for us but for both teams. We have to try and turn things around as quickly as we can because we have got a massive game coming up on Thursday, and then Ipswich at the weekend."
Perch's versatility came into play against the Foxes this weekend as he occupied a midfield role, instead of the usual defensive position, and he hopes his flexibility can benefit the squad.
"It's the position I probably played for most of my Newcastle career - in front of the back four, protecting the back four," he said.
"I like the role, so I didn't mind at all when the gaffer asked me to play there.
"The games are coming thick and fast at the moment. That's the good thing about the Championship - you don't have to wait long to put things right. None of us go out there to play badly or lose as we did at Leicester, and it's up to us to put things right."