ROBERTO Martinez admits Wigan Athletic will have to be on their guard this afternoon to avoid becoming QPR’s first victims of the campaign.
Latics entertain winless Rangers looking to arrest a slump that has seen them lose four of their last five matches.
They’ll have to do it the hard way, too, with EIGHT first-teamers out including four centre-backs.
Latics will also have to contend with the Harry Redknapp factor, with Rangers unbeaten in their first two matches under their new manager.
And Martinez is the first to acknowledge today’s encounter will be infinitely tougher than had it taken place even a fortnight ago.
“Harry has already made a big difference,” Martinez recognised.
“The last two games, QPR have got two positive results, picked up two points, and could easily have won both games.
“Harry has brought a very different approach to the situation QPR are in.
“We know that one victory will galvanise their season, and we need to be very wary of their strengths.
“The quality in the squad is far higher than the sum of points they have picked up so far, and we will have to be at our best to win the game.”
Rangers had been tipped by many to break into the top half of the Premier League after Mark Hughes’ massive summer outlay.
And Martinez believes the Loftus Road outfit are in a false position at the foot of the table.
“The margins when you are down in the bottom three are very, very small indeed,” he added.
“Two wins can get you out of there, and that is nothing over the course of the rest of the season.
“You look at the quality in their squad and they have the potential to be challenging for the top 10 in the Premier League.
“And that’s something that, by March or April, they will feel they should be moving towards.
“For whatever reason they haven’t clicked as a team yet, but integrating several new signings does take time – and we’ll have to be on our guard.”
Martinez will give Shaun Maloney until the last possible minute to prove his fitness, although next weekend’s trip to Norwich is a more realistic target.
Ryo Miyaichi (ankle), Albert Crusat (knee), Ben Watson (broken leg), Antolin Alcaraz (groin), Ivan Ramis (hamstring), Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa (both suspended) are all out.