Martinez plays down expectations

The Latics, widely written off as relegation certainties just a few

weeks ago, have given themselves a great chance of avoiding the

drop by collecting seven points from their last four Premier League

games. Last week’s win at Blackpool lifted them out of the bottom

three for the first time in three months and they now, unusually,

find themselves as favourites for Saturday’s trip to Sunderland.

That status also has much to do with the Wearsiders’ current form,

however, with Steve Bruce’s side having plummeted amid a nine-game

run in which they have collected just one point. Sunderland were 15

points ahead of Wigan in January but that difference will be cut to

just one if Martinez can engineer another win at the Stadium of

Light. The Spaniard said: “The return of points has been very

pleasing and now we are just excited about the last five games. “We

are always confident in our own ability and I feel we are going to

be confident in the next five games. “But I don’t think you can

pick a right or wrong moment to play a side. We don’t get carried

away in terms of looking at form because we know on their day

Sunderland can beat anyone. “They haven’t been getting a lot of

good results but if you look at the squad they have got, it is a

squad that showed in the first half of the season they could be

fighting for Europe. “The quality is there – you always get, for

different reasons, into a bad moment of form but it is quite clear

that on their day Sunderland are a very strong side. “They have got

huge experience and real talent, they have players who had a

massive impact at the World Cup. “That is the level they’ve got and

we are going to have to be at our best at the Stadium of Light.”

Wigan have a good record at the home of the Black Cats having lost

just twice in eight visits. A Latics victory would also see

Martinez put one over his predecessor Steve Bruce but that does not

interest him. He said: “I don’t think you need any extra

ingredients for this fixture because the importance of the points

is significant for both sides. “Steve Bruce has done a great job

and is someone with a very good past at Wigan while Lee Cattermole

and Titus Bramble were important players for us. “They are links

that are going to be there but I don’t think this game needs any

extra spice.” Defender Bramble, who left the DW Stadium last

summer, will not be featuring having been ruled out for the rest of

the season with a knee injury but midfielder Cattermole will lead

out the side. Wigan, aside from the suspended Maynor Figueroa, will

be at full strength with no injuries to report. Despite the squad’s

health and the feelgood factor generated by recent results,

Martinez is well aware the situation could quickly change. He said:

“I was saying when we were bottom that I feel the squad is finally

ready. “We have fantastic competition for places and are in a great

moment in terms of numbers and form. “But we have still only got 34

points and that is not enough to achieve our aim. We need to carry

on working in the same manner. “Getting a win away from home gives

you great belief and great confidence. It is not easy to win games

away from home so I am well aware of what the win at Blackpool

means. “But in terms of the bigger picture it was just another

game. “We had a good result and a very good performance but it

means nothing if we cannot carry on at that level for the next five

fixtures.” Martinez set his side a target of scoring 10 more points

prior to the Blackpool trip and wants to keep that goal in mind.

“We never look at the table,” he said. “That doesn’t guide our

work. “Our work is the points tally we are looking to get on May 22

and we want to get there as quick as we can.”