ROBERTO Martinez is confident his trusty Scottish engine room will drive Wigan Athletic to three points against Newcastle.
Saturday’s visit of the Toon has grown in importance in recent days, with wins for Blackburn, QPR and Bolton – on the back of Wigan’s 2-1 defeat at Fulham – meaning Latics stand just a point clear of the drop zone with three matches remaining.
Indeed, with the trip to fellow strugglers Blackburn coming the following week, it’s looking more and more like a ‘must-win’ clash.
In-form Newcastle will present a stiff test of Wigan’s recent resurgence, and it’s the midfield pairing of Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye that has allowed the likes of Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa to work their magic.
However, Martinez is confident his own outstanding combo of James McCarthy and James McArthur will win the right to allow Latics to play.
“There are going to be many battles across the park that we will have to come out on top of,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“I expect Newcastle to come to the DW wanting to control the game and wanting to get on the ball, and make things difficult for us.
“We’ll have to stay together to combat that, and we have the players in the middle of the park to do that.”
The Wigan boss has seen his gamble to bring in the Mac lads – who were team-mates at Hamilton Academical before moving south – reap huge benefits. But he says the outcome was never in doubt.
“We always knew they could reach this level as a pair, and we have invested a lot in making sure they were given every chance to get there,” he added.
“More than anything, their characters have allowed them to achieve what they have.
“When you have attitudes like they have, you can do anything in the game. And you wouldn’t want anyone else in your corner, representing your football club when the going gets tough.
“Of course they are still young lads, but it is great to see them developing into the the players we always knew they could be.
“Individually they have been huge, but the way they have integrated into the team has shown them to be outstanding men.
“It’s important when you are talking about any team that you have understanding between the players and strong partnerships that help you go forward.
“Sometimes what you do affects those alongside you, and obviously the boys have that special relationship both on and off the field that has helped them massively.”