Saturday, 29 October 2011

Martinez goes on the defensive over Maloney

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has gone on the defensive about his refusal to play summer-signing Shaun Maloney.

The winger arrived from Celtic to a fanfare from Latics supporters, who were hopeful he could replace Aston Villa-bound Charles N’Zogbia as the darling of the DW Stadium.

But, despite racking up 19 caps for his country, the 28-year-old has been given just 36 minutes in three substitute appearances.

The Wigan chief insists that is all going to change now however, as Maloney has completed a masterclass in defending at Premier League level.

Maloney was ordered to brush up on his without-the-ball skills after spending most of his career in Scotland with a club that dominates most of their matches.

"Maloney is not far off starting games," said Martinez. "It’s just a matter of coming from a team, in Celtic, that only concentrates on what you do in possession that we have had to look at.

"What to do when you don’t have the ball is not a part of the game you tend to work on at clubs like that.

"So it is getting him up to the intensity you need in the Premier League. That is his settling-in period. The quality he has got is a real magic. He is ready now."

Wigan desperately need the sort of attacking ability Maloney can provide as they attempt to end a run of seven defeats in a row in Saturday's home clash with Fulham.

It’s a slump in form that has seen them drop into the bottom three although, surprisingly, Martinez is not concerned about their perilous position.

"I’m not nervous about it," he said. "You need to understand why you are losing games and then you can work on that and it is something we are aware of.

"We suffered a tough October, but we are over that now. We don’t have any suspensions, injuries and moments of poor form. The squad is ready to compete and we need to earn that result to give us some momentum.

"We are as strong as we have ever been and, going forward, this is the best squad we have had in the last three years.

"We are starting to build momentum. We are not short on confidence, but we don’t have momentum and we need a positive result to fix that.

"We have a good balance. We have important British players in the side. They are important and know how to win games. Then we have flair players that can do something special.

"Everything is right and now we need momentum. If we can get that we can achieve something special.’’

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