Roberto Martinez admitted that Antolin Alcaraz is doubtful ahead of this weekend’s Barclays Premier League clash with Fulham at the DW Stadium.
The Paraguayan picked up a groin injury whilst on international duty last week causing him to miss Latics’ last match against Manchester United, with no guarantee he’ll be back to full fitness in time for Saturday when Martinez hopes his team can replicate the kind of form they showed in the first half at Old Trafford and go on to record their first win of the season:
“Antolin is the only player you could say is doubtful for the game,” explained Martinez. “He’ll have a late fitness test before the game, but everyone else is fit and healthy ready to try and make the team.
“We’re aiming to get back to being ourselves this weekend, as we’ve shown in previous games at the DW Stadium.
“There was a feeling of real disappointment in the Dressing Room last weekend, but the reaction from the squad in training has been fantastic, with everyone fighting for their place in the team and that competition is what has always served us well.”
Following that disappointment Martinez says the response from his players this week has been positive, with plenty of competition for places and a willingness from his team to repay the faith shown in them by the fans:
“Training this week has been fantastic, with plenty of quality and a desperate feeling in the group to focus on the good aspects of our play and learn from the mistakes.
“As always we rely on the exceptional support from our fans who were so instrumental in helping us start as we did at Old Trafford and now we want to reward them with a strong performance and the right result.
“We’re looking forward to the Fulham clash, knowing the changes they’ve made in the summer and the balance they have in their team.
“Against West Ham the early goal conceded was a big factor, but at Old Trafford they finished the game in very strong fashion and were very unfortunate not to get a positive result which is maybe a better reflection of the team we’ll face on Saturday.
“At home they’re a very strong unit, with new players who have settled in very well. The changes made in the summer may suggest a new team, but it retains the good habits which has brought them great success domestically and in Europe in recent years.
“You can never predict what the outcome of a game will be, but it’s safe to say this weekend’s will be a close battle.
“Both teams have a real focus in their play of keeping the ball and trying to control games which will make for a real close encounter.
“We’ve always had that kind of closely fought history, even going back to our days in the Third Division when we both won promotion in 1997 having finished on the same number of points, each going on incredible football journeys ever since.
“Knowing where we’ve come from always makes for an enjoyable meeting between the two sides now in the best league in the world.”
The game could also see the return of former Wigan Athletic striker and the Club’s all-time leading Premier League goalscorer Hugo Rodallega, who the Gaffer says will always be remembered affectionately at the DW Stadium:
“Hugo has an incredible history with Wigan Athletic and that will always stand, I’m sure when the day comes for him to retire people will look back at his time here with great appreciation and he too will no doubt always have a special feeling towards our club.
“Since the summer we’ve all moved on with new challenges; it’ll be great to see him at the weekend and of course we wish him all the very best for the future once the game has passed.”