Fran’s the man - Martinez

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ROBERTO Martinez is backing Franco di Santo to continue making a big impact at Latics this term.

The Argentinian hit-man didn’t have the best of seasons last time around, scoring just once – in the 4-2 defeat at Sunderland in April – in 29 appearances.

However, this time around it’s proved a different story for the 22-year-old, who has scored three times in his last three Premier League outings.

A double to sink QPR was followed by the opener at Goodison during Latics’ 3-1 defeat at Everton last weekend, so di Santo is in good nick and his manager is backing him to build on this rich vein of form in front of goal.

Martinez said: “Franco’s really enjoying his football, but that’s not just been now that he’s in a great goalscoring run of form, he’s been like that ever since he’s been here.

“His contribution this season has been fantastic though, he’s a completely new man. He’s had a real focus and a real desire to be successful.

“He wants to score goals for us and he wants to play for Argentina, but more than that his overall contribution has been phenomenal.

“There are not many strikers out there who are as strong as him, he can run all day and he can strike the ball with his right or left foot and he’s good in the air.

“He’s still only 22 so now is the perfect time to enjoy his football with us.”

Scoring just that once last season following his £2m switch from Chelsea in summer, 2010, wasn’t ideal, but a whole new outlook since this summer appears to have down the trick.

Martinez added: “We’ve had to change his mental approach to football slightly, and this season he has been totally different.

“There’s a real steely determination there and he knows that if he plays well he’ll have a fantastic season and a fantastic career.

“He can fulfil his potential, but if you are not right psychologically it can hold you back physically. Franco has set a great example this season of how best to prepare yourself and how to be ready for a demanding campaign.

“He has sat down recently and realised exactly what he wants to do. He wants to be the best number nine for Argentina and he wants to be the best player that’s ever played for Wigan Athletic.

“That’s a great mindset to have, and now we’re here to help him develop as best we can.

“To hit the back of the net is the hardest thing to do in football, but from my point of view I just want him to carry on from his great start this season.

“Forget long-term ambitions for now, if he focuses on his day-to-day work and keeps up his mental approach then he can fulfil that enormous potential. For a player of just 22, everything is coming together for him now.”