ROBERTO Martinez believes Wigan Athletic are only “fine margins” away from rediscovering their top form.
Latics travel to Stoke tonight looking to move out of the bottom three after a wretched recent run of only one win in 10 Premier League matches.
The Wigan boss will again ring the changes after seeing his fringe players just about get past Macclesfield in the FA Cup at the weekend.
Martinez is defending an unbeaten record against the Potters stretching back seven matches, and he believes a couple of minor tweaks will lead to them turning their campaign around.
“I don’t think we are playing too differently now to the way we did at the end of last season,” Martinez acknowledged.
“Probably we are now just a little bit exposed and conceding goals too easily.
“The margins in which we need to improve are not massive, but now is the time to be doing it.”
Antolin Alcaraz again misses out through injury, although the Paraguayan’s return following groin surgery is imminent.
Elsewhere, Adrian Lopez is in contention after coming through a late cameo at Macclesfield with no after-effects following a hamstring injury.
“Adrian felt a little tired after the game and we’ll have to assess him, but it’s great to have him back in the fold again,” Martinez added.
“Antolin won’t be ready for Stoke, but he is not far away.
“Thankfully the worst is over for him - and the start of February will hopefully be the start of his season.”
Tonight’s game will be a real clash of footballing cultures between Latics and a Stoke side who again hit the headlines at the weekend after Glenn Whelan’s ugly lunge at Manchester City’s Javi Garcia.
Whelan is free to face Latics tonight because Howard Webb saw the incident, despite failing to brandish a card, but Martinez refused to condemn the Potters for their approach.
“What Stoke have done over the years - both on and off the pitch - has been incredible,” he recognised.
“Tony Pulis has strengthened the squad year on year, taken the club into the Europa League, and also they have built a new training ground.
“Stoke, along with Wigan and every other club in the world, have the right to play the game the way they want to.
“The aim of the game is to put the ball in the back of the net and Stoke do that with ease.
“Whatever style you use, you just need to be good at it.
“Styles of play will not give you wins - what gives you wins is being good at the style of play you use.”