ROBERTO Martinez has challenged Nouha Dicko make a name for himself back at Wigan Athletic – starting tomorrow at Fulham.
The Frenchman has spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Blackpool, scoring five goals in 22 appearances for the Seasiders. He was recalled by Latics at the end of last week, and appeared as a late substitute in the FA Cup tie against Bournemouth.
And with Arouna Kone away at the African Nations Cup – and widemen Ryo Miyaichi and Albert Crusat sidelined with injury – Martinez admits there is an opportunity for Dicko to force his way into the reckoning at his parent club. “It’s been great to see Nouha back at the football club, and he is a far more mature individual than the one that left here last summer,” Martinez acknowledged.
“He didn’t play as much as we would have liked at Blackpool, but he has benefited from the experience and to have scored five goals in the amount of minutes he played was an incredible return.
“I know that the Blackpool fans really took to him as a player, which can only enhance his experience.
“I want to assess him over the next two weeks and we’ll make a final decision about what to do next, but we do need to make sure the next step is the right one for his development.
“There could well be an opening here with Albert and Ryo being out injured, and he has worked well with the group since he came back.
“I feel his best position is playing on the right-hand side and cutting inside, and it’s an area we are quite weak at the moment.”
Latics have a wretched recent record against the Cottagers, with six draws and six defeats from the last 12 meetings.
But Fulham themselves are struggling at the moment, and Martinez believes tomorrow’s game represents a good chance for his side to climb out of the bottom three.
“Craven Cottage has always been a difficult place to go and get a result, but it seems they haven’t been able to get the results of late,” he added.
“There has been a high turnover of players, and the injuries they’ve had this season has affected them a lot, so we go there with confidence.”