Bob: No-one’s place is safe

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ROBERTO Martinez has sent a message to his whole starting XI ahead of Saturday’s vital clash at Reading: “Every place is up for grabs.”

The Spaniard made a number of changes for the 4-1 victory at Huddersfield on Sunday – with several of those coming in really impressing.

Callum McManaman was instrumental in the win with other fringe players, including defender Roman Golobart, also putting in strong performances.

It has given the Wigan boss a few selection headaches ahead of their return to Premier League action this weekend, against a team just two points above them in the table

“We will take every game as it comes, but winning does breed confidence and competition for places,” Martinez said. “The position we are in the league, I wouldn’t say any player is guaranteed of a place in the first team.

“And games in the FA Cup are an ideal opportunity for players to come in and show me what they can do for the team.”

Martinez has made a number of changes for each of his side’s FA Cup games this campaign and it is a tactic which has taken the side get to just 90 minutes away from a Wembley appearance.

Latics can certainly rue their bad luck when it has come to injuries this season.

Ivan Ramis has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign while the likes of Ben Watson, Ryo Miyaichi and Antolin Alcaraz are still sidelined. The situation was even worse before Christmas when other squad members such as James McArthur and Shaun Maloney were also out.

Martinez added: “We have suffered badly with injuries this season, and it’s refreshing to see so many bodies fit and ready to play at a crucial stage.

“We looked like a team, a group of players with great cohesion and understanding, and that’s a sign of how much progress we’ve made as a football club.”

Meanwhile, Latic’s FA Cup quarter final fixture against Everton or Oldham Athletic will take place on Saturday, March 9, with a 12.45pm kick- off.

The game will be screened live on ITV. Everton and Oldham will play their fifth round replay on Tuesday, February 26 at Goodison Park.

l 12th Man – page 38