Martinez keen to keep McCarthy

BY foxsports • August 18, 2011

The 20-year-old has been linked with some of the Premier League's biggest sides this summer after an impressive season in 2010/11, but the Latics have made hanging on to one of their biggest assets a priority. Martinez said of McCarthy, who joined Wigan two years ago from Hamilton on a five-year contract: "James is a big diamond of ours. I felt he had a tremendous season last campaign and he deserves a reward. "We've got another five or six players that we're going to look to try to reward and give them new contracts. "We're still in talks, nothing has been finalised, but it's not a real secret that we want to reward the players who have been performing well and developing with us, and James McCarthy is in that group. "The nature of the window is that everyone wants to speak about the new signings but sometimes we forget the most important thing is to keep the most important players at the football club, and for me that's a major issue that we're working extremely hard on. "We want players to be committed to the long-term future of the football club and James McCarthy, at only 20, is a real example of that. "It's important that players can see there's stability and can really focus on enjoying their football and trying to win games for Wigan. The future should look after itself." Meanwhile, Martinez dismissed reports of a rift with striker Hugo Rodallega, who is out of contract at the end of the season. The Colombian, whose goal at Stoke on the final of last season preserved the Latics' Premier League status, is another to have been linked with a move away from the DW Stadium but Martinez insisted tying him down to a new deal is not a major concern. The striker was only fit enough for the bench in last weekend's draw with Norwich after returning late following his involvement in the Copa America but he could return to the starting line-up at Swansea on Saturday. "We've never had a problem with Hugo," added Martinez. "I know there's been a few things in the press, I don't know where they've come from. We would love to have Hugo here for the long term but at the moment it's not a priority. "His agent's in Colombia, we've got a very good relationship, and we'll see what develops from there. But my focus on Hugo is for him to be as fit as he can be because when he's on top form he's a unique player and an important player." Saturday's clash will be an emotional one for Martinez, who spent three-and-a-half years as a player with Swansea before returning as manager for two seasons between 2007 and 2009, securing promotion to the Championship. In the Spaniard's first season in south Wales he helped the Swans avoid relegation from the Football League, and he is delighted to see them back at the top level of English football. Martinez said: "My links with Swansea go far closer than just being an ex-manager. We had a very intense period back in 2002-03, we were all working extremely hard to stay a professional club and that was a really tough period. "We developed really strong links and it's a special football club for me, so to see Swansea in the Barclays Premier League is a great feeling. "Everyone down in south Wales deserves that, it's such a passionate club, and we feel privileged that we're going to be the first English club to play a fixture in the Premier League away from England, and destiny brings us to the Liberty Stadium, which is a great occasion. "But that's going to be lasting for five minutes because once the whistle goes and the game starts it's going to be a really important game for both sides. I think it'll be a really exciting game because of the way the two sides play."

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