ROBERTO Martinez is ready for some serious last-minute wheeling and dealing as the transfer window prepares to slam shut.
From tomorrow, Martinez must make do with what he has until the window re-opens in January.
And the Wigan boss is very conscious of the dangers of leaving his squad light for the next four months.
He told the Evening Post: “Probably we are three or four bodies short at the moment, and both Jonathan (Jackson, chief executive) and the chairman (Dave Whelan) are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make that right.
“We had Jordan Mustoe and Callum McManaman on the bench on Saturday, which is great, but they’re not ready to play in the Premier League just yet.
“We have a very, very small squad, and we need reinforcements.”
Tom Cleverley is expected to join from Manchester United on a season-long loan, which could in turn affect Wigan’s bid to land Chelsea’s Franco di Santo.
The Argentinian striker had also been tipped to arrive on a 12-month loan, but clubs are only allowed to borrow up to two players from fellow English clubs – and Ali Al Habsi has already taken one of those spots.
One way round it would be to make Al Habsi’s move from Bolton permanent, while another would be to sign Di Santo outright. Both would cost around £2.5m.
After calling for the transfer window to be closed before the start of the season, Martinez also believes the loan situation needs tidying up.
“The restrictions from the Premier League do not help young players in this country,” he reasoned.
“You can bring in as many foreign loans as you want, but only two from here. It is unfair on the clubs and the talent coming through.”
Free agent Guillermo Franco remains another possibility, after his expected arrival stalled last week due to fitness concerns.
As far as outgoings are concerned, Martinez simply doesn’t have the manpower to contemplate losing any more of his squad.
The exception, of course, is Charles N’Zogbia.
Although Birmingham have stepped back, Steve Bruce and Sunderland continue to lurk in the wings, and it would be no surprise if N’Zogbia was to follow Titus Bramble, Lee Cattermole and his old gaffer to Wearside.
Latics will hold out for the £9m Birmingham were prepared to pay, although Martinez accepts the player has burned most of his bridges at the DW. He said: “It’s very, very difficult to see a way back for Charles.”
l Bolton boss Owen Coyle has admitted he is unlikely to recall Al Habsi from his loan spell despite Jussi Jaaskelainen’s weekend red card.
“That option is available,” Coyle said. “But we have tremendous belief in (reserve) Adam Bogdan.”