Finish on a high, Hugo

Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega
Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega

ROBERTO Martinez has challenged Hugo Rodallega to end the season with a bang – even if it means ensuring his future lies away from Wigan Athletic.

The Colombian was widely tipped to leave Latics during January, but ended up staying despite interest from Fulham, QPR and Spurs.

Rodallega’s contract with Wigan expires at the end of the season, when he would be able to negotiate his next move as a free agent.

But Martinez insists Wigan’s all-time record goalscorer has more than enough to occupy his mind in the meantime – not least helping Latics retain their Premier League status.

“The most important thing is the football club, and the next 15 games,” Martinez reasoned.

“But there is a big difference between having Hugo Rodallega available and not having him – there’s no two ways about that.

“We never agreed any valuation with any football club – that was never the case at all.

“There was a lot of talk but no club met our valuation and that is that.

“All I know is we are a must stronger side when Hugo’s playing – and we’ll need his goals, his experience and his fight if we are to achieve our goals.

“We’re delighted he’s still here, and now it’s a case of ensuring every individual remains is committed to the group.”

Rodallega only has two goals to his name this term – against Sunderland and QPR – but Martinez expects him to regain top form now all the uncertainty over his future has been removed.

He also refused to rule out the possibility of the former Necaxa man extending his stay with Wigan beyond this season.

“Hugo still hasn’t decided what the future holds for him. He wants to see what the next three months brings,” the Wigan boss revealed.

“But he hasn’t ruled out signing a new contract here, so I think it would be premature to try to second guess what his next move will be.

“A week can be a long time in football, so three months is an absolute eternity.

“What is clear is that Hugo’s fully focused on what he has to do here – which is to perform at a high level.

“Hugo is just an incredible character – his biggest strength is the mental side of his game.

“He wants to help the group – which is the only thing that matters between now and the summer.

“Hugo’s always said that he’ll give everything he has for Wigan Athletic – as he always has in the past – and his personal situation is not going to affect that. He knows what we need for him.”