Martinez: Every player needed for rest of season

Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez
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ROBERTO Martinez admits he will sit back and “let football make the decision” regarding team selection for the rest of the campaign.

Latics return to domestic duties after the international break with the visit of Norwich, knowing a win will take them to the 30-point mark from as many matches.

Last week’s blank weekend came at a bad time for Latics, who had won four of their previous five matches, with an FA Cup semi-final against Millwall to look forward to next month as well.

Wigan’s last outing, the 2-1 victory over Newcastle, saw Martinez keep faith with the side that reached Wembley, meaning Ali Al Habsi, Franco di Santo, James McArthur and Gary Caldwell were left on the bench.

And Martinez warned that only consistent top-class performances will enable players to hold their spots for the vital run-in.

“Every position is for grabs,” Martinez recognised.

“Remember we have at least 10 games in the next seven weeks, and every player is going to be needed.

“Obviously because of the FA Cup run, all of a sudden we have more players fighting for places in the team.

“I’m not going to make the decision on who plays – it will be football that makes the decision.

“That’s why I feel the excitement around the place is so different, because everyone knows they absolutely have to be at their best. And at this stage of the season, the rewards are huge.

“Over the next seven weeks there will be moments that will be unique in a player’s career.”

Al Habsi certainly did his cause no harm with a man-of-the-match performance in Oman’s 2-2 draw in Australia on Tuesday night.

“Ali was fantastic against Australia,” Martinez said.

“He made six incredible saves from Tim Cahill alone.

“I think that was the Australian tactic, looking for Cahill in the box. But Ali stood up to him well.”

The Wigan boss will wait until all of his international contingent have returned before finalising his side.

But he may be forced into at least one change, with Antolin Alcaraz (groin) joining Callum McManaman (ankle) on the injured list.

“It’s complicated with Antolin, because he has developed fatigue related to his injury,” Martinez added.

“We perhaps should have given him more time.”

LATICS coach Graham Barrow has received a £1,000 fine and one game touchline ban following the half-time bust up with Newcastle assistant John Carver.

WIGAN winger Nouha Dicko has signed on loan with Wolves for the rest of the season.