Grayson: Two points dropped

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

huge.

“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

here.

“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.”