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By ESPN Staff

Heskey backs Bruce to be Wigan's saviour

Emile Heskey has backed new manager Steve Bruce to lead Wigan to survival.

The former Birmingham boss took charge last week with the Latics second bottom of the Barclays Premier League, two points adrift of safety after a nine-game losing streak.

He kept Birmingham in the Premier League for four years before being relegated in 2006 and Heskey, who spent two years at St Andrews before joining the Latics that summer, believes Bruce has the experience to maintain Wigan's top-flight status.

'He's a confident manager,' said Heskey. 'He's dealt with relegation dogfights before so hopefully we can scrape through.

'He's made a few changes, every coach has his own training methods, and the lads have taken to it well.

'Confidence was at a low, as it would be with any team after losing nine in a row, but him coming in and bringing his ideas have just perked everyone up. We're confident we can do it.

'There's so many teams down there that are one or two losses away from getting dragged into it.'

Bruce began his second spell at the JJB Stadium at home to high-flying Manchester City on Saturday and although Titus Bramble gifted City a first-minute lead, Wigan made a positive response to earn a 1-1 draw.

That result has boosted morale amongst the Latics' squad and Heskey feels Bruce's arrival has already had a big impact.

'He's only had one game in charge and it was brilliant,' he said. 'We made a bit of a shaky start, but he's going to instil a lot of belief in us.

'I think we're getting our confidence back and you've got to be confident you can stay in this league because if you're not, it's no use actually going out there and playing.

'The lads are bound to have a new lease of life when a new manager comes in because they want to impress and it's been something new for us.'

Heskey was speaking at a fundraising dinner in Manchester for the Jason Roberts Foundation, which was launched by the Blackburn striker earlier this year.

Roberts, who is also a Grenada international, aims to show disadvantaged young people in the UK and Grenada how they can become valued members of society through sport.

'I'm happy to help Jason,' said Heskey. 'His roots are in Grenada and it's great he wants to do some things like this.

'He's giving greater opportunities to young kids and it's something that his heart's in.'