ROBERTO Martinez has been urged to make Bolton an offer they can’t refuse for Ali Al Habsi – by two of Wigan’s defensive rocks.
Al Habsi has just completed a hugely-successful season-long loan from Wanderers, scooping both the ‘Player of the Year’ and ‘Away Player of the Year’ awards at last week’s awards dinner.
The Oman No.1 is due back at the Reebok to discuss what the future holds with Owen Coyle, with Latics keen to make the switch permanent subject to an agreeable fee.
Al Habsi will enjoy a richly-deserved holiday before making a decision, but Emmerson Boyce has called on his manager to strike while the iron’s hot and contact his Bolton counterpart.
He told the Evening Post: “Ali’s in a great position now.
“We’d all like him to stay at Wigan, but a few bigger clubs will have been following him this year and he hasn’t done his reputation any harm. If we see him in July for pre-season, then great. If not, we move on. But I hope he’s here again.”
Al Habsi took the gloves off Chris Kirkland just two matches into the season and, thanks to a string of consistent displays, never relinquished them.
The only two Premier League games he missed were the clashes against his parent club, who he was unable to play against.
“Ali came in, took his chance and never looked back,” Boyce added.
“To keep Kirky out of the team takes some doing, and he’s been amazing throughout the whole season. You won’t find anybody saying a bad word about Ali.
“When we’ve needed him, he’s been there. He’s pulled off some fantastic saves on a weekly basis.
“All we can do is thank him for what he’s done for us, thanks for the memories.
“As for the future, what will be will be.”
That view is shared by skipper Gary Caldwell, who hailed the ‘crucial’ contribution of the big goalkeeper in Latics retaining their Premier League status.
“Ali’s been outstanding this season, and has shown what a great shot-stopper he is,” Caldwell said.
“He’s kept us in so many games when we’ve been struggling and hopefully he’ll be here again next year with a few more new faces that will make us stronger.
“But that’s the manager’s call – and we’ll trust him to make the right decisions.”
The Wigan boss accepts it will be tough to persuade Bolton to sell the in-demand goalkeeper, but says Latics will go as far as they can to push through a deal.