SELIM Benachour has warned of a “crucial month” for Latics.

The new year has got off to tough start with a 6-0 thrashing by Wigan in the Papa John’s Trophy coming on the back of a goalless New Year’s Day draw at Hartlepool. That was followed by Saturday’s postponed scheduled home game with Sutton United.

Results elsewhere worsened Latics’ league position as a two-point gap to safety before the day’s League Two fixtures increased to four.

Latics have not won a league game since parting company with head coach Keith Curle in November and have yet to make a permanent replacement.

But in the meantime Benachour is determined to turn the team’s fortunes around.

“We are all aware that January will be a crucial month as we look to move up the League Two table and the onus is now on us to start getting the wins we need in the second half of the season,” said the interim head coach, who is looking to build on back-to-back clean sheets in the league.

“In securing the draws at Barrow and Hartlepool, I was very pleased with the character, discipline and application of our players.

“Of course, we would have liked a greater points return over the festive period, but by keeping two clean sheets against teams who are also battling hard in a similar position to ourselves, I have been happy with the signs of progress we are showing.”

But Benachour knows there is room for improvement.

“Having created chances - particularly against Hartlepool - to have earned more than a point, we are aware of the need to be more clinical at key moments in the games that are coming up,” he said.

“As the season progresses the outcome of each game becomes more important and the matches are often tighter, so the ability to keep our composure and make the most of the openings we create is something the players are aware of.”

With Latics still in touching distance of safety, Benachour is mindful of the impact a win can have.

“With just less than half of the season to play, the league table remains very compact and one result can make a big difference to the outlook of any team towards the bottom,” he told the club.

“We have been busier than most due to the number of postponements, but having held our own during this period, I am confident it will stand us in good stead over the coming months.”