Roberto Martinez has told his players to keep performing well to
stay in the Wigan Athletic side and has praised Ali Al Habsi for
strengthening his case with a fine display for Oman.
Al Habsi was left on the bench for Wigan’s win over Newcastle
United as Martinez kept faith with the side that beat Everton in
the FA Cup, meaning another start for Spanish youngster Joel.
But Al Habsi impressed Martinez with the way he played for Oman
in a 2-2 draw against Australia in midweek, putting him in
contention for a recall against Norwich City on Saturday.
“Ali was fantastic against Australia,” Martinez said. “He made
six incredible saves from Tim Cahill alone.
“I think that was the Australian tactic, looking for Cahill in
the box. But Ali stood up to him well.”
Martinez admits he will have to rely on his whole squad for the
rest of the season as Wigan battle for Premier League survival and
FA Cup glory.
“Every position is for grabs,” he stated. “Remember we have at
least 10 games in the next seven weeks, and every player is going
to be needed.
“Obviously because of the FA Cup run, all of a sudden we have
more players fighting for places in the team.
“I’m not going to make the decision on who plays – it will be
football that makes the decision.
“That’s why I feel the excitement around the place is so
different, because everyone knows they absolutely have to be at
their best. And at this stage of the season, the rewards are
“Over the next seven weeks there will be moments that will be
unique in a player’s career.”
Martinez may be forced into at least one change this weekend,
with Antolin Alcaraz (groin) joining Callum McManaman (ankle) on
the injured list.
“It’s complicated with Antolin, because he has developed fatigue
related to his injury,” Martinez added.
“We perhaps should have given him more time.”
Teenage forward Jed Wallace bagged his third goal in three
matches after three minutes to put Pompey ahead but Keith Keane’s
stunning volley after 77 minutes levelled for the Lilywhites.
Portsmouth rode their luck at times – Jack King headed against
the bar and Joe Garner hit a post before the hosts eventually
equalised – and while North End have lost just once in eight games,
they have drawn four of those.
Grayson said: “It was a game where we created some good chances
but we’ve dropped two points. We’ve hit the bar and the post.
“We’re disappointed with the goal we conceded but full credit to
the players, they stuck to it.
“We had enough chances to win the game and that’s disappointing
but if you don’t win it you make sure you keep fighting and
scrapping to make sure you get something out of it.
“It was a great goal. I thought he did well when he went into
midfield and Keith has been very good for us since I’ve been
“It needed to be something like that goal as their keeper had
made some good saves. Once we got the goal it looked like we were
going to kick on and get that winner, but it wasn’t to be.
“They kept plugging away which is the good thing and they didn’t
let the early goal affect them and they carried out the
instructions I wanted them to do.”