Martinez hails super-fit Rod

ROBERTO Martinez believes that being in supremely fit shape contributed to Hugo Rodallega not being more seriously injured than he actually was at Everton last weekend.

A hefty challenge from the Toffees’ Denis Stracqualursi late in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat led to Rodallega being stretchered off with a serious-looking knee injury.

Initial fears were that the Colombian star could have been facing around three months out of action, but Martinez reported with some relief on Tuesday that the joint was nowhere near as seriously damaged as was first feared.

The Latics boss admitted: “It was an accident, but this does highlight exactly how fit Hugo actually is because when you go in for these challenges there isn’t much time to react if you do need to get out of the way.

“Your fitness sometimes allows your body to react quickly and probably protect the joint, and that probably saved Hugo from suffering a really bad injury in this instance.

“We’re delighted the injury will heal quicker than anticipated, but in the meantime Hugo will miss his football and the training.

“It’ll be difficult for him, but we’ll work hard and make sure he comes back stronger than before Saturday’s challenge.

“It’s been a reflection of exactly how fit he is.

“He rode the challenge somewhat and that can lessen injuries in certain situations.”

Martinez is also backing hit-man Rodallega to beat the frustrations of being injured and bounce back strongly – whenever that may be.

The manager added: “Psychologically it will be a tough time for Hugo, but you can turn that into a positive in that he won’t be expected to perform, he won’t be expected to win games, and this can give him time to concentrate on different areas of his game.

“As long as he uses this period to become a stronger human being and a stronger footballer, he won’t lose too much.

“Injuries are part and parcel of the game of football.

“You sometimes have to be prepared mentally for that to get through them.”