Agonising KO for Thomas

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HENDRY Thomas will be given an extended summer break after coming agonisingly close to tasting Gold Cup glory with Honduras.

Thomas and his team-mates took red-hot favourites Mexico all the way in a tense semi-final in Houston before bowing out in extra time, Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez scoring the clincher in a 2-0 victory.

The midfield enforcer can now put his feet up for a few weeks to recuperate ahead of the new Premier League season and – along with Copa America duo Antolin Alcaraz and Hugo Rodallega –will not be expected back with the rest of the Wigan squad for the start of pre-season training on July 7.

“We’ve got a few players representing Wigan Athletic this summer – in the Gold Cup and in the Copa America – and those players will have a different programme on their return,” Roberto Martinez told the Evening Post.

“It’s not ideal because the players don’t get the proper rest they need, and individually we’ll have to treat them differently to the rest of the group in terms of what kind of work the players will need to put in.

“But we’ve all seen how well Hendry did at the Gold Cup, and that will do him the world of good in the long run.

“He needed some game-time after missing out towards the end of the season and, after a break, he’ll come back refreshed and raring to go for us.

“We’re also looking forward to seeing Hugo and Antolin playing at the Copa America later this summer, and see how much it’ll benefit them as well.”

Paraguay continued their preparation for the Copa America with a friendly against Chile overnight, ahead of their opening showdown against ex-Latic Antonio Valencia’s Ecuador on Sunday week.

Colombia, meanwhile, face Momo Diame’s Senegal later today in their latest warm-up match before kicking off their campaign against Costa Rica a week tomorrow.

The rest of the Latics squad have less than a fortnight remaining of their summer break and, although few of the players will be relishing the prospect of swapping beach balls for footballs, Martinez can’t wait to get back on to the training ground.

“Seven weeks is enough of a break for the players after an intense season,” the Wigan boss added.

“And I’m looking forward to another very good pre-season programme with a lot of variation.

“It will be a different kind of pre-season to last year, when we were coming in on the back of a World Cup, but the concepts and volumes of work will be similar.”

l Reports in the North East suggest Charles N’Zogbia favours a move to his old club Newcastle rather than Steve Bruce’s Sunderland as the race for the Latics winger’s signature hots up.