Wigan Athletic will hope Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League adventure proves a distraction when they meet at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
Wigan are bottom of the English Premier League, but they managed a vital 2-0 win over Birmingham in their last match and are only two points off the safety of 17th place.
Ordinarily, Tottenham would be expected to account easily for lowly Wigan, but their form has suffered in the past two months, possibly as a result of the demands placed on the team by European competition.
Spurs’ last win was a 1-0 victory away to AC Milan in the Champions League round of 16.
Since then, they have lost 3-2 away to Blackpool, drawn 3-3 away to Wolves and been held 0-0 at home to West Ham.
Another 0-0 draw at home to Milan in the round-of-16 second leg secured their progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where a daunting tie against Spanish giants Real Madrid awaits.
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is sure to take the trip to Real’s Santiago Bernabeu on April 5 into consideration, meaning he may be forced to field a weakened team on Saturday.
Redknapp is likely to be without centre-backs Younis Kaboul and Jonathan Woodgate.
Another central defender, Ledley King, is rumoured to be nearing a return from a persistent groin complaint, but the trip to Wigan is likely to come too soon.
Defensive midfielders Wilson Palacios and Tom Huddlestone are also sidelined.
Further forward, wide men Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale were both forced out of international competition last week for England and Wales respectively with hamstring problems.
They may be rested against Wigan to ensure their readiness to face Real.
If the pair are absent, Redknapp is likely to retain the pacy Jermain Defoe in attack, while relying on the creative talents of Dutchman Rafael van der Vaart.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has a full complement of players to call upon.
Colombian striker Hugo Rodallega and forwards Victor Moses and Charles N’Zogbia will need to fire if Wigan are to gain a positive result.