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Friday, July 8, 2011
ESPNsoccernet: July 12, 10:13 AM UK
Martinez hopeful of keeping stars

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes he can hang on to his star players despite the constant speculation about them being picked off by bigger clubs.

• Wigan blog: Summer of discontent
• Al Habsi seals deal

Winger Charles N'Zogbia, who last summer was on the verge of a move to Birmingham before the deal collapsed over personal terms, has been linked with a host of clubs as he only has 12 months left on his contract.

The likes of striker Hugo Rodallega and James McCarthy have also attracted interest from rival Premier League teams.

However, the Latics manager is confident he can keep hold of those assets in order to continue the club's development.

"There is no reason to think otherwise. The players are under contract,'' said Martinez, who was speaking at the announcement of a club record two-year shirt sponsorship deal with 12BET.

"We've got a lot of good players and it is understandable people are looking at them.

"There's been a lot of media speculation - that is part of being in the transfer window - but I am more focused on trying to reach the targets we set, get as fit as we can and enjoy every player we have in the squad. We are working hard in pre-season to continue our development.

"We don't know what is going to be around the corner so we are going to enjoy having these players but as a football club you have to be prepared.

"Every player comes back to the club where they work for pre-season so they are not in the press or reading papers about themselves.

"They know they have to work hard to ensure we start the season in the manner we finished it. Don't think players come back thinking 'Where I am going to be?'''

The arrival of goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi on a permanent deal from Bolton after last season's loan spell has cast into doubt the future of former Latics number one Chris Kirkland, who went to npower Championship side Leicester on loan in January.

But Martinez said the former England international still had a part to play at the DW Stadium. "We've got four goalkeepers and that is something I wanted to have,'' added the Spaniard.

"We have one very young - Lee Nicholls who is going to the Under-20s World Cup - and Mike Pollitt who is very experienced and we've just signed Ali Al Habsi. As a player you want to play and I understand that.''

While he hopes to hang on to his best players, Martinez is not planning major arrivals.

"I feel we are probably looking at another player,'' he said. We have lost Tom Cleverley, who went back to Manchester United after doing very well, but everyone else is stronger after another year's experience.

"Tom staying was not an option. He came to us to get Premier League experience to help his development and he will go back to Manchester United and really fight for his place.''




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