Martinez: Wembley places up for grabs

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ROBERTO Martinez is banking on the lure of Wembley places getting the best out of his players this weekend.

Latics will be seeking their sixth win from their last seven when they face QPR in front of the Sky Sports cameras this Sunday.

Wigan – currently 17th – have a chance to wedge a 10 point gap between themselves and Harry Redknapp’s outfit.

And with their FA Cup semi-final against Millwall looming just six days later, it presents a final chance for Wigan’s players to stake their claims for Wembley spots.

Martinez said: “We know that playing at Wembley is a unique experience, but we see that as something to enjoy and look forward while understanding the real importance is the league.

“Both competitions go hand in hand, and success in one helps to bring success in the other.

“The competition for places is as strong as it’s ever been.

“That brings confidence and a real desire for every game you play.”

Latics’ upturn in form has coincided with other results going their way, and a clutch of mid-table sides have been dragged into the scrap for top-flight survival.

Five clubs above them are within four points of Wigan’s current 30 points tally – and Martinez’s men have a game in hand.

Having pulled off a miraculous escape from the drop last season, the Spaniard believes they are well-armed to do the same, particularly with Arouna Kone in such prolific form.

The Ivory Coast international has now netted four goals in the last four matches, and Martinez said: “It’s always important to have that clinical touch in front of goal and to score goals.

“I feel we have goals in us, and it’s something we would like to continue over the next couple of months.”

Martinez’s attractive style has been widely lauded, yet he acknowledges the end product is vital.

“In the past, sometimes we have been impressive in between the two boxes,” he said.

“But what you do inside both boxes is the key, the difference between getting a good result and a bad one.

“We have defended really well of late, and at the other end when you have the quality going forward that we have it is very important.”