March 30, 2013
Martinez eyes Canaries boost
Team Stat Comparison
|Wigan Athletic||Norwich City|
|Goals for *||1.4||0.8|
|Goals against *||2.1||2.0|
|Last 5 home||D-L-D-W-W||W-L-W-D-D|
|Last 5 away||L-W-L-L-D||W-L-L-L-D|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Wigan Athletic | Norwich City|
Wigan have never beaten Norwich in the league, yet Roberto Martinez is hoping a match against the Canaries can prove crucial to their survival hopes for the second season in a row.
The Latics go into the game against Chris Hughton's side at the DW Stadium sitting three points off safety in the Barclays Premier League with nine games remaining.
Last season their situation was more dire and they were hot favourites for relegation when they travelled to Carrow Road on March 11.
The first half reinforced Wigan's shortcomings but after the break they found a different gear, Victor Moses equalised, and they were disappointed only to come away with a draw.
Of the remaining 10 games, the Latics won seven, beating Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, and they secured their Premier League status with a game to go.
Moses has moved on to Chelsea but, with Wigan's injury list at last down to manageable levels, Martinez sees plenty of reasons to think the outcome could be the same.
He said: "There are many similarities and the biggest similarity for me is the options that we've got on the pitch. I think the competition for places is stronger than ever.
"Last season we went to Carrow Road and that's where Shaun Maloney came alive, Victor Moses all of a sudden looked like a player that was capable of winning a game single-handed, and now we've got exactly the same.
"After a very difficult season in terms of numbers we've got really good options in the side and we've got a lot of games in the weeks left.
"The standard in training has been really high and in many ways it's like a fresh start in our season. But we haven't beaten Norwich and we need to make sure we can change that.''
Martinez is likely to make late decisions on the fitness of striker Callum McManaman and defender Antolin Alcaraz.
McManaman, Wigan's most high-profile player of the moment following his tackle on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara, has an ankle problem while Martinez is keen not to overplay Alcaraz, who missed six months of the season with a groin tear.
Meanwhile, assistant manager Graham Barrow will have to watch the game from the stands after being given a one-match ban and a £1,000 fine by the Football Association on Thursday.
Barrow was involved in a confrontation with John Carver on the pitch two weeks ago after the Newcastle assistant boss angrily approached McManaman at half-time.
Meanwhile, Jonny Howson admits his time on the Norwich sidelines has only increased his appetite to be involved in the fight for Barclays Premier League survival.
Howson said: "The season was always going to go down to the wire and if you start to look too far ahead you can get caught out.
"It is a big game with Wigan down there but we'll keep working hard and hopefully we'll be okay. You have to have the mentality that you will survive.''
It is Howson's first full season at Carrow Road, having been signed from Leeds in January 2012 - and he has made 22 appearances from 30 league matches this season, eight of them as a substitute.
Howson said: "I would have loved to have played more games but it is about the team. If it was up to me I would be playing every single week but sometimes you learn from not playing.
"It makes you stronger as a player and when you get the chance you have got to take it or you will be back on the sidelines. Your job on the bench is to keep others on their toes.''
With goalkeeper Mark Bunn suspended after being sent off against Sunderland, Hughton has confirmed Lee Camp will start in goal.
First-choice goalkeeper John Ruddy returned to training this week following surgery on a thigh problem but will require several reserve games before being considered for first-team action.
Meanwhile, midfielder Alexander Tettey is back in contention after recovering from a knee injury and Russell Martin (hamstring) is fit again after pulling out of the Scotland squad.
Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) could be back next weekend after a three-week lay-off.