Target ‘higher than ever’ – Bob

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ROBERTO Martinez thinks Latics may have to make Premier League history to avoid relegation this term.

Wigan currently have 27 points from their 27 games played, only three points fewer than it would have taken to finish ahead of last season’s three relegated sides.

But the strength of this year’s top flight means the ‘safety target’ could be over a point-a-game – for only the third time since the Premier League became a 20-club competition 16 years ago.

It could even threaten West Ham’s unwanted record from 2002-03 of 42 points for a relegated side.

“Last season was a pretty low target to stay up, and I think this season will be a lot more,” Martinez told the Evening Post.

“It will probably be around the 40-point mark but it could be even higher.

“It’s hard to say because a lot of the teams at the bottom have to play each other, and points will be taken off each other.

“I see eight teams being involved, and the three teams in the relegation zone are in no worse a position as the teams currently above them.”

Latics will have their work cut out to maintain their point-a-game tally, with both Manchester clubs next up after this week’s FA Cup break.

But Martinez believes the draw at Liverpool last weekend shows the players have no reason to be scared of facing the so-called ‘elite’.

“The biggest job we have on our hands is developing that belief we have in the squad,” Martinez admitted.

“If you look at the level of performance we showed at Liverpool, it was so encouraging.

“We just have to try and forget about the table and where we are, and making sure we go into every game with a clear idea of how to win the game/

“I thought we were good enough to win the game on Saturday, and sometimes you need to have that belief to take you over the line.”

The Spaniard also believes Latics may have got the toughest game of their run-in out of the way already.

“The Blackburn game earlier this month was probably the hardest game of the lot, because we absolutely had to win that game,” he said.

“Yes we have tough games coming up, but that’s the league we are playing in.

“It’s not about the opposition – I just want to focus on us reaching our best level. And when everyone is fit and available we can compete with anyone.”

Meanwhile, Latics have parted company with South Korean international Won- Hee Cho by mutual consent.

Cho was signed two years ago as a a free agent by Steve Bruce from Suwon Bluewings.

Having made only five league appearances for Wigan, Cho was loaned back at his old club last January.

However, due to his lack of international appearances in this period, he no longer qualifies for a UK visa and has been unable to return to Wigan.

“We wish Won-Hee all the best in the future,” added Martinez.

“He was a wonderful character and a great professional who always gave his all for us.”