Cup duo are given green light

Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez

ROBERTO Martinez couldn’t be happier to see Hugo Rodallega and Antolin Alcaraz starring at the Copa America – even if it means their preparation for next season could be massively disrupted.

Rodallega and Colombia have already booked their place in the quarter-finals of the competition by topping Group A ahead of hosts and favourites Argentina.

And Paraguay, featuring Alcaraz at the back, will join them in the last eight with victory over Venezuela tonight, although a draw could also be enough.

It’s possible, depending on results, that the pair could end up facing each other for a place in the last four, meaning a potentially uncomfortable 90 minutes for the Latics boss.

With the final taking place on Sunday week, either man could find himself with just 20 days of down-time before Wigan’s big Premier League kick-off against Norwich on August 13.

While accepting it’s a far from ideal state of affairs, Martinez insists the positives of the situation far outweigh the negatives.

“It’s about finding the right balance, but I feel we’ll be able to do that when both players return,” Martinez told the Evening Post.

“We’ll make sure they have a good break at the end of the tournament and we’ll be able to use their experiences in a good way.

“I honestly don’t feel it is in any way negative having them over there playing for their countries.

“I feel the more successful they can be, the more they will be able to bring back to the squad on their return.

“You are talking about two players who are naturally extremely fit, physically, and the possibility of fatigue is not a concern at all for me.”

Rodallega has been largely employed as an impact sub by Colombia, while Alcaraz was a rock-like presence in Paraguay’s draw with Brazil at the weekend.

“It’s been great to see them on the TV, representing Wigan Athletic with such distinction,” added Martinez, currently overseeing a pre-season training camp in Sweden.

“Antolin had a great game against Brazil, and it was nice to see Hugo play for 45 minutes against Bolivia and having a real impact.

“He’s been used off the bench so far, but I feel he has a personal challenge to finish the tournament in the starting line-up.”

l Centre-back set for Latics exit – page 29