Al Habsi’s vote of confidence

Ali Al Habsi in action against Reading
Ali Al Habsi in action against Reading

ROBERTO Martinez has given Ali Al Habsi a massive vote of confidence ahead of tomorrow night’s visit of Manchester City by insisting he wouldn’t swap the Oman No.1 for any other goalkeeper.

Al Habsi made an uncharacteristic gaffe in the 3-2 victory over Reading at the weekend, allowing Hal Robson-Kanu’s deflected shot to slip through his hands and over the line.

Thankfully, Al Habsi’s blushes were spared when Jordi Gomez completed his hat-trick deep into stoppage-time, with the goalkeeper’s relief being written all over his face as his team-mates celebrated.

And Martinez believes the fact that so much has been made of the 30-year-old’s blunder is a reflection of his incredible consistency since joining Latics two-and-a-half years ago.

“I wouldn’t take any other keeper to replace Ali and that’s how much we rate him,” Martinez insisted.

“He’s the perfect goalkeeper for ourselves - he’s someone who can fit in in the way we want to play.

“He’s someone who’s still developing and in every aspect is the perfect goalkeeper for Wigan Athletic.

“I know that at international level, he is already an icon. We’ve been to Oman and we know what pressure he plays under, and it’s incredible to see him developing and growing and getting better.

“I still feel he’s got another step to get to and once he gets there, he’s a keeper who can compete in any sort of challenge to win a title, the Champions League or a World Cup.”