ROBERTO Martinez will give Shaun Maloney until the last possible moment to prove his fitness ahead of tonight’s visit of Manchester City.
Maloney was forced off at half-time against Reading last Saturday after picking up a groin problem, and Martinez was initially very pessimistic about his chances of making tonight’s game.
However, Maloney has since reported a massive improvement and still hopes to play a part against the champions.
The news is less positive about Ivan Ramis and Gary Caldwell, with neither expected to overcome niggling hamstring injuries in time to feature.
“I can’t see Ivan being fit, and it’s hard to tell whether Gary is developing well,” Martinez revealed.
“But Shaun felt a little easier on Sunday so he has a chance.
“It is very rare for anyone who has to come off injured at the weekend to be fit for a midweek game, but we’ll wait and see.”
Martinez at least has Franco di Santo ready to return to the starting line-up should Maloney fail to make it, while Adrian Lopez is standing by to deputise for Ramis.
Lopez did well after taking over from Ramis against Reading, alongside Emmerson Boyce and Maynor Figueroa, and Martinez would have no qualms in handing him his first Premier League start of the campoign if necessary.
“You never want to have injuries, but I was pleased with the way that Emmerson, Maynor and Adrian took responsibility in the second half against Reading,” the Wigan boss added.
“It’s not something we will be using as an excuse to be weaker, because I feel we will be competitive no matter who we send on to the field.”
There was good news from the weekend regarding the midfield, with James McArthur reporting no ill-effects from his late cameo after three games out with a dead leg.
The Scotland midfielder slotted straight back in alongside James McCarthy, and he is champing at the bit to start what he believes is a massive game for Latics.
“We need to go into the game believing we can win the game, and I believe we are a good enough side to get a result,” McArthur said.
“Back-to-back wins would really put us in a good position going into the Christmas period, and it’s important we build on the Reading game.
“Winning the odd game is no good if you don’t build on it, and you have to make it two wins, and maybe three wins to make sure it means something.”
Meanwhile, Latics look set to wrap up the signing of Honduras international Roger Espinoza from MLS outfit Sporting Kansas City when the transfer window re-opens in January.
“He called and told me he’s basically decided he’s going to Wigan,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes admitted.
“It was a tough decision for him, but it’s something he wanted to do. He wanted a chance to play in the English Premier League.
“He’s been a great guy on and off the field for us for several years. His growth as a player has been tremendous. I told him we’re happy for him, but the doors are open if things change in the future.”