ROBERTO Martinez has backed Hugo Rodallega to come out firing after the Colombian’s moment of madness against Everton cost Latics two precious points.
Just 13 minutes remained when Rodallega inexplicably handled the ball at an Everton corner to gift Leighton Baines an equaliser the Toffees didn’t deserve.
The result leaves Latics in the bottom three with just three matches remaining, but Martinez insists his top scorer is champing at the bit to make amends.
“First of all, Hugo performed very well – there was a big difference from the previous game. His performance against Everton was very, very good,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“His action reflected the responsibility and the tension that games this time of year come with, and it’s important we all learn from it.
“We are all disappointed with what happened, but Hugo has the full support of everyone at the football club.
“He is a very strong character, and he’ll win many points for us in the future.
“Experiences like this make you a better player, and hopefully he can carry on working hard and scoring goals.”
The Wigan boss has backed Rodallega to take out his frustrations on Aston Villa this weekend.
“Hugo is a very positive person, but it was a difficult moment for him as you can imagine,” Martinez added. “To work so hard and not be able to finish with a winning feeling is hard to take.
“But Hugo has a strong group of players around him and he’s ready to get rid of that frustration as quickly as possible.
“Things like that happen –that’s football. But it’s important you don’t allow things like that stop you from growing as a person and as a footballer.
“His overall play and work rate was very good. It’s all too easy to measure strikers by their goals and number of shots, but it’s about more than that.
“It’s important in the situation we’re in to defend as a team and attack as a team, and the strikers are the first line of our defence.
“In that respect, he did well against Everton, and he’s ready to go again at Aston Villa.”
Rodallega has happy memories of Villa Park, having smashed a magnificent goal there on the opening day of last term to ensure Martinez’s reign got off to the perfect start.
The 2-0 victory was one of three away wins in the five Premier League clashes between the sides at Villa Park, the other two matches ending in draws.
However, Martinez admits he’d take a winning goal going in off Rodallega’s backside if it meant three vital points that would edge Latics to within touching distance of the 40-point barrier.
“Last year was a magnificent memory for us all – a really great goal from Hugo,” the Spaniard added.
“I’d be happy if he scored another like that on Saturday, but it doesn’t have to be that spectacular or stylish.
“The only thing that matters is that we do score and that we do win the game.”