Hugo tipped for Copa America stardom

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HUGO Rodallega has been tipped to be a star of this summer’s Copa America, by Roberto Martinez.

The Copa America is the equivalent of the European Championships, and some of the greatest players on the planet – including Lionel Messi – will be strutting their stuff in Argentina over the next three weeks.

Latics will have two representatives to keep an eye on – Rodallega and Paraguay’s Antolin Alcaraz – while ex-favourite Antonio Valencia will be key to Ecuador’s hopes of achieving anything.

And the Wigan boss reckons Colombian hitman Rodallega is capable of making his mark on the biggest stage – despite having just completed a tiring Premier League campaign.

“Physically, Hugo is a ‘10’. He hasn’t got a single problem,” Martinez told the Evening Post. “He doesn’t miss any training sessions, and finished the season very strongly.

“He has just had three weeks of regeneration before joining up with the Colombia group. I’ve seen Colombia play a lot, and he really enjoys playing up front with Falcao and it will be a real boost for him to play in that environment.

“It will be exciting to see Hugo playing against Brazil – that will be a real challenge and an experience for him. And I am expecting Hugo to stand out with his quality in what will be a very exciting tournament.”

Martinez also believes Latics will not suffer a negative reaction when Rodallaga returns to Wigan ahead of next season.

“As long as he does not pick up an injury, it won’t affect him physically ahead of next year,” Martinez added.

“With some players, it could be a problem. But in Hugo’s case, the more he plays the fitter he gets.”

Last year’s European equivalent was marred by under-par displays from a number of players – not least several of the England team – who were unable to make the kind of impact they regularly had for their club sides. Martinez, though, promises there will be no lack of passion on show in the Copa America.

“South American players love playing for their countries,” he insisted.

“And I think it’s sometimes different with players of other nationalities.

“You could see at the World Cup last summer, some of the players from the European countries didn’t enjoy playing there as much as they did in the Champions League for their clubs.

“That’s not the case with South American players. They love representing their country.

“And that means we’re in for a feast of football over the next month or so.”