With absentees mounting ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League clash with Queens Park Rangers at the DW Stadium, Roberto Martinez says it is in these times of adversity that the club shows its true colours and that the character shown by players and fans alike in recent weeks is something he is immensely proud of.
Speaking in the build-up to this weekend’s match the Spaniard called for another show of strength when Harry Redknapp’s team arrive to take on Latics and for the team to continue performing in the manner they have been in recent weeks.
He said: “I always feel that these are the times when we perform at our best; in times of adversity when we need the collective support of players, staff and of course the fans who for me have been tremendous lately.
“It’s a true sign of what we are as a club; we never look for excuses but instead look for ways of dealing with whatever comes our way.
“Even in the dying minutes of the game at St. James’ Park the fans were making themselves heard in a quiet stadium. I think ever since the second-half against Reading we turned a corner in terms of character as a club.
“Their voice made a big difference that day and ensured we took three important points and they have the power to do that again on Saturday.
“Let’s stay strong as a unit and keep encouraging one another to perform at the highest level in these games.”
With Maynor Figueroa’s red card being upheld and Gary Caldwell picking up his fifth yellow card of the season at Newcastle United on Monday night the list of absentees grows for Martinez with a number of players already out through injury.
Although the gaffer revealed that some players are close to a return and that he was left frustrated after the FA’s decision not to overturn Figueroa’s ban after reviewing the incident which led to his dismissal at St. James’ Park:
“As the game was progressing on Monday night we were increasingly frustrated by the decision, but hopeful that the FA panel would overturn the red card and make Maynor available for this weekend.
“We tried everything possible for that to happen because we need him and he deserves to play against QPR, especially after the feelings he went through after the game.
“He’s been punished twice for not doing an awful lot wrong, but we need to try and accept the decision and move on to Saturday’s game with the aim of replacing the negative feelings with positive ones from our performance.
“There isn’t much change to the injury situation; we have seven players missing including Gary Caldwell out through suspension after his fifth yellow card against Newcastle.
“There are a number of players who have a very good chance of being available for next weekend’s match against Norwich City. Obviously there are long-term absentees like Ben Watson and Albert Crusat, but Antolin Alcaraz, Ivan Ramis and Shaun Maloney are progressing very well and hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy their return shortly.
“It’s a busy month and we have a large chunk of the squad unavailable, but the truth is that the efforts put in by those who have played haven’t been rewarded.
“We need to keep working in that direction because if we continue performing in the manner that we have been we’ll collect many points regardless of who is available and who isn’t.
“Those who have come into the team have played with great character and I feel have made the club very proud of their efforts.”
To see what else Roberto had to say on the clash with QPR this weekend as well as his thoughts on the recent FA Cup third round draw [click here].