ROBERTO Martinez says Liverpool will provide a stiff test of his resurgent Wigan Athletic side – with or without star striker Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan should find out later today the results of an FA hearing into allegations he racially abused Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
If found guilty, Suarez could be looking at a lengthy ban – starting with his side’s trip to the DW tomorrow night.
But Martinez insists Wigan’s chances of getting anything out of the game are not dependent on Suarez’s involvement.
“It would make it easier for us if they were to play with 10 men, but whoever they bring in would be up to the job,” the Wigan boss said.
“Andy Carroll cost £35million, and for that you expect a good player.
“There’s also Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy and so on.
“While Suarez is an outstanding footballer, Liverpool will never rely on one player to win them games, which is what makes them so dangerous.
“If anyone thinks that if Suarez isn’t playing it will make it an easier game for us, then they’re hugely mistaken.
“It’s obviously impossible for me to predict whether Suarez will be playing against us or not, but I think it’s of benefit to everyone for a decision to be made as soon as possible.
“You can’t just leave outstanding issues like this up in the air.”
Suarez has impressed most onlookers with the way he has settled in to life in the Premier League following his big-money move from Ajax at the start of the year.
Martinez, though, was not surprised in the slightest to see him make the grade in England.
“When I saw Luis Suarez play for Ajax, I always thought he was a player who could win a game on his own,” the Latics boss added.
“He has that edge – and there aren’t many players of his type in world football.
“He proved he could make the step up when he shone at the World Cup, and then again when he arrived in the Premier League in January.
“He has real pace, his movement is outstanding, he is a clinical finisher, has two good feet, he can buy free-kicks when he wants – he is the complete footballer.
“And mentally, with all of the challenges he has so far proved up to, he is one of the most strong-minded players you’re ever going to see.”
Despite the undoubted ability of their talisman, Martinez refutes the suggestion that the Kenny Dalglish’s side are anywhere approaching a one-man team.
In fact, the Spaniard reckons this Liverpool side could turn out to be the strongest Anfield outfit in recent years.
“You have got the new signings who are bringing about a fresh outlook on the team, as well as the traditional group of players that have been there for a while,” Martinez opined.
“They have got the perfect balance – goalscoring ability from every angle of the pitch, and also a well-drilled defence with a fantastic record over the years.
“When you put them together, with the traditions of a club like Liverpool, you can see success is just around the corner.”
Martinez looks set to name an unchanged side for the game, after Antolin Alcaraz successfully came through the weekend draw against Chelsea after a rib problem.
“Antolin wouldn’t want it known but he was in pain throughout the Chelsea game,” Martinez revealed. “But the manner in which he performed was great to see.
“Hugo Rodallega is the only slight worry after he felt his knee when he collided with Petr Cech, but he should be okay as well.”