ROBERTO Martinez is desperate to have Emmerson Boyce back from injury for Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa – to keep the shackles on Charles N’Zogbia.
Wigan’s ‘Mr Reliable’ has been sidelined since picking up a hamstring problem linked to a back strain at Manchester City earlier this month.
That game was the first of four defeats on the spin for Latics, who had started the campaign with an unbeaten three-match run.
And with old boy N’Zogbia – who has mostly featured on the left wing this term – waiting to welcome his former side to Villa Park, Martinez is desperate to have his first-choice right-back back to bolster a backline that has shipped 10 goals this month.
“We’re hoping Boycey will be back as soon as possible, and the signs at the moment are very good,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“It’s important we get him back working with the group, and until this week he hasn’t been able to do that.
“But hopefully he’ll be able to join the rest of the group before Saturday and we’ll assess whether he’s ready or not.
“We won’t be taking any risks. though. It’s not just about getting him back for Saturday – it’s about making sure he’s 100 per cent when he does get back.”
With Antolin Alcaraz already out until November, Martinez admits the absence of Boyce has been a bitter pill to swallow.
“Boycey’s a player who brings that understanding, composure and stability that any team needs,” the Spaniard added. “And that’s absolutely invaluable – especially with the young group we’ve got.
“Boycey is a senior figure here, and his presence, his experience and his attachment to the football club is much needed.”
N’Zogbia has struggled to find his feet so far in the Midlands after his £9.5million switch in the summer.
But Martinez is acutely aware of the danger the Frenchman poses on his day.
“You don’t score nearly 20 goals in two seasons without having great talent, and Charlie has it all,” admitted Martinez.
“He’s got pace, power, skill, dribbling ability – he is a real old-fashioned winger who loves getting into one-against-one situations.
“Sometimes it’s about finding time to find the right partnerships, and sometimes that just takes time.
“But he’ll be a success at Villa – I’ve got no doubts about that. I just hope he doesn’t start on Saturday.”