Wigan news

Martinez sweating on players' fitness

February 5, 2013
By Richard Jolly

Roberto Martinez faces an anxious week as he hopes that 11 Wigan players return from international duty fit and able to face European champions Chelsea on Saturday.

Ali Al-Habsi Oman
GettyImagesAli Al-Habsi: An Oman international

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Wigan have players from five different continents and often struggle in the game after an international break, partly because many of their footballers face long journeys and Martinez lacks the strength in depth to omit them.

Martinez is pleased that two of his South Americans, Argentina striker Franco Di Santo and Chile wing-back Jean Beausejour, will be in Europe with their countries.

But goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, who represents Oman, and the Honduran pair of Maynor Figueroa and Roger Espinoza all have thousands of miles to cover before lining up at Stamford Bridge.

Martinez said: "Ali is the longest, he's going to Oman which he's used to. Chile are playing in Spain and Franco with his Argentina side are playing in Sweden. The Honduras boys are used to coming from Miami so I'm hoping that it's not going to be much of a distraction.

"I've said it many times that the national teams need to work with their players but for us to have 11 internationals going away is tough because we don't have the size of squad to rest and rotate people but it's something that you can't do anything about other than adapt and get the best out of it.

"I really like my players to represent their country because it's a positive distraction, they're energised and it's a good thing but sometimes it's a question of how beneficial it can be playing a friendly at this stage of the season."

Wigan should be boosted by the return of striker Arouna Kone after Ivory Coast were knocked out of the African Nations Cup.