ANTOLIN Alcaraz has added to Roberto Martinez’s selection problems ahead of Saturday’s trip to Manchester United.
The Latics centre-back picked up a groin injury while on international duty with Paraguay, and is a major doubt for the big game.
With Jean Beausejour struggling to overcome a hamstring injury sustained against Stoke a fortnight ago, it leaves Martinez with plenty to ponder.
Maynor Figueroa would have been a shoo-in to deputise for Beausejour at left wing-back, with Alcaraz returning after a one-match suspension.
Likewise, Figueroa would have been the perfect choice to cover for Alcaraz if Beausejour was fully fit.
But with both potentially missing out, one into two doesn’t go and Martinez will have to assess his options.
David Jones and Ronnie Stam could come in at left wing-back but, with Antonio Valencia in opposition, Martinez may feel Figueroa is the man for the job.
That would leave a gap at centre-back, which Martinez could fill by drafting in Adrian Lopez, although he’s only made one league appearance in 12 months.
The other option if Martinez wants to keep his 3-4-3 formation would be to switch the dependable Emmerson Boyce to centre-back and bring in Stam on the right.
The waters are further muddied by the fact Figueroa only arrives back in the UK today after a jet-setting double-header against Cuba – but resting him is not a luxury Martinez has at his disposal.
“Jean’s been reacting well to treatment but he’s still a big question mark for Manchester United,” admitted Martinez.
“Antolin still hasn’t been assessed or had a scan so we don’t know the extent of the injury. But it sounds as though it will be difficult for him to be ready for Saturday as it stands.”
Meanwhile, Martinez hopes the publication of the report into the Hillsborough disaster will lead to the families of the victims getting “justice and closure” at last.
“For me, when it happened it was such a long time ago and I didn’t share that moment, but when the news came out you felt part of it,” he added.
“It affects the whole football family. It’s something that affected the whole football world.
“And our thoughts as a football club go to them. It’s just a shame that it took so long.
“It’s a moment that brings a little bit of light into probably the biggest tragedy involving British football.
“Our thoughts go to the families of the victims, who can probably now get closure and justice on their side because that is the very least that they deserve.”