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The 32-year-old wants the club to prove their run of good form at the end of last season was no "fluke", and is looking forward to Hugo Rodallega's return to the DW stadium

Wigan defender Emmerson Boyce has insisted his side can challenge for a top-ten Premier League finish this season.

The Latics narrowly avoided relegation last term as an incredible run of seven wins from nine matches helped them pull away from the bottom three.

The defender hopes to avoid being in the same position this time round and is even targeting a place in the top half of the table.
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“Our mentality is to think that we can push ourselves and show people that we’re not just a team that have to battle for safety at the end of the season," he told reporters.

“We realise that if we don’t beat the teams that are around us in the league then we are going to have a fight on our hands but, we don’t want to be doing that because after last season we have higher expectations of ourselves.

“We are looking to push towards that top ten and pushing to show people that the club as a whole is progressing and that the end of last season wasn’t just a fluke.”

The 32-year-old, who is in his seventh season at the DW Stadium after joining from Crystal Palace in 2006, believes the stability brought by Roberto Martinez has helped the club to flourish.

“We understand more now what the manager wants from us," he continued.

“We’ve got a very good squad and the styles of players are different from those that we had in the past under other managers.

“The players we’ve got now are fantastic and we all suit the way that the gaffer wants us to play which is obviously really important.

“In that respect I think we’ve got one of the strongest squads we’ve ever had. I’ve played with some great players like Antonio Valencia but, as a unit we have got stronger.”

Boyce will come face-to-face with former team-mate Hugo Rodallega for the first time since his summer move to Fulham when Wigan host the Cottagers on Saturday, and is certain the striker will be well received by fans.

“He will be welcomed back because he has done a lot for the club what with being the record Premier League goal scorer and obviously the goal he scored against Stoke City," he added.

“I think he’ll do really well at Fulham but on Saturday I hope he doesn’t have a good game and then after that it would be nice to see him doing well.

“I think he’ll get a very warm welcome from the players and fans but for 90 minutes he is the opposition and we will try our best to stop him and the rest of the Fulham team.

“[It's] a massive game for us and we and the fans are expectant of a good result.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence still because we actually played quite well against Man United despite the result.

“Fulham is a game that we will go into thinking that we can take all three points.”

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