Bruce keen to keep stars

Wigan boss not surprised by interest in players

Bruce: Building something special

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Steve Bruce has insisted that he is not under pressure to sell as speculation intensifies regarding a number of Wigan players.

The Latics have impressed during the first half of the season and are currently seventh in the Premier League table.

The likes of Antonio Valencia, Emile Heskey and Amr Zaki have stood out so far this term and they have all been linked with moves away from the JJB Stadium.

Real Madrid are believed to be interested in Valencia and Bruce can understand why the Ecuadorian winger is attracting so much attention.

However, the Wigan boss is not taking much notice of all the transfer talk and is determined to keep all his top stars.

"It is the silly season and there's bound to be tons of speculation between now and the end of January," Bruce told the Wigan Evening Post.

"There's nothing I can do about that but my priority is to keep my best players here. I'm not under pressure to sell my best players and I don't want to do that.

"The big clubs are watching us constantly. I'm not surprised that Valencia's attracting interest.

"He is, in my opinion, the best right-sided midfielder in the Premier League - if you put Cristiano Ronaldo on the left!"

European aim

Wigan enjoyed an excellent 2008 and Bruce sees no reason why they cannot continue their fine form.

Bruce is targeting a strong finish to the season and possibly European qualification, adding: "It proves how far we've come in 12 months that these clubs are looking at our players.

"But I'll be delighted when the window closes because I'm trying to build something special.

"We picked up 59 points in the 2008 calendar year - enough to secure a top-seven or top-eight place. So why can't we go on and make a bid for a place in Europe?"