Belfast Telegraph

Martinez explains Maloney absence

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has defended his decision to ignore Shaun Maloney for most of the season.

The Scotland midfielder has been one of the inspirations behind Wigan's recent resurgence and curled home the winner against Manchester United in midweek that allowed the Latics to clamber out of the bottom three for the first time since October.

Martinez said: "Maybe you can move from Celtic to the Premier League. But not from Celtic to Wigan. With a club fighting for the title in Scotland you get a lot of possession. In the Premier League physically, you need to find the right level, then you have to work out what you are doing off the ball and how you are going to defend. It is not easy."

Prior to Wigan's trip to Norwich on March 11, when he was introduced as a substitute, Maloney had been involved in only three Premier League games, all as a substitute, which in total amounted to just 34 minutes.

In five games since that Norwich trip, Martinez's side have picked up 10 points, beaten Liverpool and United and only returned from Chelsea empty-handed thanks to a couple of inexplicable offside decisions the Wigan boss has received an official apology for.

With his team so short of goals, Martinez has given Maloney free reign to utilise his creative talents and now there is a potency about them that prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to question how Wigan find themselves knowing that if Bolton win their match in hand, they will be back in the bottom three.

Given his side's perilous position, the Spaniard sees little point in dwelling on such matters, hence his desire for Maloney's good work to continue.

"It is not about the time Shaun has been away," said Martinez. "It is about the time he has been enjoying on the pitch.

"He had a massive impact against Norwich and since then he has shown he is a player who is capable of that little bit of magic that gives you results.

"He makes the fans enjoy their football, which is something they really appreciate and has shown a real freshness in producing the quality we always knew he had."

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