FORGOTTEN man Hendry Thomas still has a big future at Wigan Athletic, according to Roberto Martinez.
The tough-tackling midfielder – currently starring over in America at the Gold Cup with Honduras – was a frustrated spectator as Latics completed the Great Escape to guarantee a seventh season of top-flight football.
His last taste of Premier League action was a late cameo off the bench at West Brom on February 1, his last start coming the previous week against Aston Villa when he gave away a needless penalty in a 2-1 home defeat.
That was in stark contrast to his sparkling form during the first half of the campaign, when he was arguably Wigan’s form player until the turn of the year.
With only 12 months remaining of the three-year deal he penned in the summer of 2009, question marks have arisen about Thomas’ long-term future at the DW.
But Martinez believes all the 26-year-old needs is a strong pre-season under his belt before he’ll be knocking on the first-team door again.
“Hendry is a player who needs to be at 100 per cent from a physical point of view to be able to do himself justice and play his usual high-intensity game,” Martinez told the Evening Post. “Although he started the season really well, he paid the penalty for playing in the World Cup last summer and not having a proper rest.
“The Premier League can be a really cruel competition in that respect, and the season was probably a bit too long for him.
“Hopefully he’ll come back for pre-season raring to go and will be able to rediscover that intensity that we all associate with Hendry.
“If he can do that, he’ll give us even greater competition for places in that midfield.”
Thomas found himself out in the cold following the return to fitness of James McCarthy, but Martinez says it’s not a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for those not in the first XI.
“It can be difficult to keep people happy who are not in the team, but what’s important is that the player realises it’s a team game and everyone is going to have good and bad moments,” the Wigan boss added.
“Everyone here is part of Wigan Athletic, regardless of whether they are out there on the pitch or sat on the bench. That mentality helped us put together our great run of form that helped us to stay up, and it’s something we want to continue next term.”