ROBERTO Martinez believes Wigan Athletic have the “tactical flexibility” to be able to overcome the absence of FOUR frontline centre-backs for tomorrow’s six-pointer against QPR.
The absence of the injured Ivan Ramis and Antolin Alcaraz, along with the suspended Maynor Figueroa and Gary Caldwell, means Martinez may have to tinker with the 3-4-3 formation that has served him so well during the last 12 months.
Adrian Lopez will play alongside Emmerson Boyce at the heart of the defence, after impressing there in the second half at Newcastle and in a man-of-the-match display against champions Manchester City last week.
But Martinez has still to decide whether to hand young Spaniard Roman Golobart his first-team debut as the third centre-half – or switch to a more conventional flat back four.
“We have got real tactical flexibility in the squad, and we are able to adapt into different formations,” Martinez insisted.
“Of course we wish the players who are missing were playing.
“But the focus has to be on the ones who are able to play and desperate to do a job for the team.”
Ben Watson would have been a contender to drop into the back three in a sweeper-type role, but the former Crystal Palace man is one of Wigan’s walking wounded.
Also sidelined are Ryo Miyaichi, Albert Crusat and Shaun Maloney, making a total of EIGHT absentees - which meant Figueroa’s controversial dismissal at St James’ Park was doubly damaging.
Latics failed in the week to have the red card rescinded, the FA backing Mike Jones’ judgement that Papiss Cisse had been denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.
And while accepting the decision, Martinez admits the incident had left a bitter taste in the mouth.
“The rules are very clear regarding a red card - it has to be an obvious goalscoring opportunity,” the Wigan boss added.
“The feeling of frustration from our point of view was the fact this was not an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
“The striker is not in control of the ball, it is a divided ball between him and the defender, and travelling into the goalkeeper’s arms.
“He may have been able to challenge for the loose ball, but that to me is not an obvious goalscoring opportunity - and I feel Maynor has been dealt with too harshly.”