Martinez runs the rule over strikers

Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez

ROBERTO Martinez is not letting the pressures of a relegation battle affect his long-term planning for Wigan Athletic.

Latics face another crunch clash this weekend, with West Brom visiting the DW in the first of 10 ‘cup finals’ that will decide their fate.

As well as fine-tuning preparations for the game, the Latics chief is also looking years down the line as he bids to safeguard the club’s future.

While the likes of Hugo Rodallega, Franco di Santo and Conor Sammon will be carrying Wigan’s goalscoring hopes on their shoulders between now and May, a 20-year-old by the name of Ryan Donnelly could be entrusted with those duties in years to come.

Donnelly, scorer of 25 goals in just 33 games for Scottish outfit Airdie this term, has just spent a successful week on trial at Christopher Park.

And Martinez admits the process of identifying and seeking new blood is not restricted to a few weeks during the transfer window.

“Talented young players like Ryan are the kind we will always be interested in,” Martinez told the Evening Post.

“He’s had a very good season so far, and he came down so we could have a closer look at him.

“Ryan had a very good week with us, it was nice to have him and I hope he enjoyed his time here.

“It will have been useful for him, to experience life at a Premier League club and have a clear picture of where he wants to get to in his career.

“He’s gone back home now and will play with Airdrie for the rest of the season, but he will definitely remain on our radar.”

Donnelly certainly wouldn’t have found it difficult to settle in at Wigan, with fellow Scots Gary Caldwell, James McCarthy, James McArthur and Shaun Maloney already on the books.

And Martinez confirmed the Scottish market is one he will continue to revisit in pursuit of bargains.

“It’s an area we have looked to in the past with great success,” he added. “And I’m not just talking about ability on the field.

“The personal values and standards these players come down with are second to none, and it makes them easy to work with.”

Meanwhile, Gambia U20 international Alieu Darbo says he will sign for Latics later this month.

The highly-rated winger is a free agent after leaving French outfit Le Mans in January, and is also believed to have impressed on trial.

“I have a verbal agreement with Wigan,” said Darbo.

“Because of the reception I received at Wigan, which I never got anywhere else, I decided to pick them. Everything felt right for me.”