Roberto Martinez is expecting a tight game when Latics face Everton at the DW Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
David Moyes’ side have made an impressive start to the new season and currently occupy second spot in the Barclays Premier League, following their 3-1 win over Southampton last weekend at Goodison Park.
Martinez hopes that with the help of the fans his side can record their first home win of the campaign before next week’s international break, saying:
“Games against Everton have always been close calls, especially here at the DW Stadium.
“They have different dimensions in the way they play, they can stretch you as a team and have the individuals to really penetrate the opposition.
“Their work rate and competitive edge is as good as you’ll find anywhere in the Premier League, and they appear to be continuing with the momentum picked up back in January, playing with confidence and a smile on their faces.
“We’ll have to be at our best, there’s no doubt about that, but after the disappointments we’ve suffered in the last few weeks Saturday is a day for ourselves, to turn the corner and start a new month with a good feeling.
“Any positive result before an international break is important because it sets the tone around the place during that time.
“So a result is important in keeping away negative feelings during that time, but also in terms of getting back to winning ways and finding momentum in the league.
“We’ve shown we can perform at the highest level and now is the time to find that consistency and begin to climb the table.
Latics fans have already clocked up over 1,500 miles this season following the team up and down the country, and the Gaffer stressed the importance they play in helping the team turn a corner in the league.
He said: “The fans have been magnificent so far this season. At Old Trafford, the Stadium of Light and Upton Park they were tremendous.
“Right now we need to come together as a football club, it’s a key moment and we can’t allow the negative feelings of recent weeks to control our fate.
“We need to stick together and rely on each other in typical Wigan Athletic fashion, helping to turn a corner this weekend which I’ve no doubt would be a real turning point in our season.
“The message is clear, we need to be ready for a big challenge on Saturday and use the positive effect of our fans in our favour.”
Jordi Gomez will be available for the match after the Spaniard’s red card picked up at the Stadium of Light was rescinded in the week, and Martinez is hopeful Franco Di Santo can continue his comeback from a calf injury after coming off the bench against Sunderland last weekend
“It’s a decision that leaves us with mixed feelings (Gomez’s rescinded red card); on the one hand we’re very pleased to have him available after the right verdict was reached, because to lose him for three games would have been a huge punishment.
“On the other hand we still see how influential the sending off was in the game which cost us the possibility of getting a positive result.”
The Gaffer explained Di Santo’s current situation, but admitted he may again be without Paraguayan defender Antolin Alcaraz.
“Franco has recovered well from his injury,” said Martinez, “he came off the bench at Sunderland and has since been working hard with the group to fully regain match-fitness, so I expect him to be available.
“Antolin’s situation is a bit different. He’s been recovering well but it’s too early at this stage (Thursday) to tell whether he’ll be available or not for Saturday.
“He hasn’t been working with the group yet so he’s still at an early stage in his recovery process. We knew the tear in his groin was going to take time to heal and unfortunately it’s in an area of the body that has to be 100% before you can start rigorous exercise with.
“He’s still in a period of recovery time we expected him to be in, but knowing Antolin he’ll hopefully be back quicker than planned because he’s a fit boy and a fast healer. It’ll probably be another two or three weeks before he can be fully fit.
“Fraser Fyvie has a knock to his ankle also, but apart from that every player is fit and available.”
To watch the interview in full on Latics Player[click here].
Tickets for this match are on sale on the day of the game to supporters with a ticket purchasing history with the Club (maximum of four tickets per person).