Martinez rues Wigan injury crisis

Roberto Martinez is hoping for a much-needed lift against Arsenal on Saturday as Wigan battle an ongoing injury crisis from a familiar position in the Premier League table.

Striving to avoid relegation has been almost an annual occurrence for the Latics but last season's strong finish from what looked at one stage a hopeless position left them optimistic this campaign could be different.

And they had stayed away from the bottom three until dropping into it last week amid a run of only one point from four games.

There have certainly been extenuating circumstances, most notably their lengthy injury list - Wigan could be without eight players, including four central defenders, for Saturday's clash with Arsenal.

Manager Martinez said: "When you're coping with seven or eight players missing, very important players and four of them playing in the same position, that's quite unique.

"I've been very pleased with the rest of the squad in the manner in which they took responsibility and we've been performing in the same manner.

"I've been looking at all the games and, apart from the first half at Norwich, we've been competitive and have shown a very good level.

"Saying that, we haven't been able to get as many points as we would have liked and to get a big result against a top side, it gives you an incredible belief, it gives you that mental strength that you need in any team.

"Saturday's going to be key because we need to push ourselves to the maximum.

"We know we need to be perfect to be able to compete against this Arsenal side but, in this situation, if we can get a positive result and a strong performance, I think we'll reap the rewards further down the line when we've got the full squad ready.

"We'll never be happy if we're not in a position that we feel we should be, but I think the performances have been very similar to the ones we had in the final nine games of last season and I'm very pleased with that.

"We've been in this position before, we know exactly what we have to do as a football club. We always react in the right manner and that's what we're going to do."

Last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Norwich proved costly on two fronts, with midfielder James McCarthy and centre-back Adrian Lopez picking up injuries.

Lopez could be missing for up to 10 weeks with a hamstring tear, joining Ben Watson (broken leg), Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) and Albert Crusat (knee) on the long-term injured list.

Martinez was furious after McCarthy was hurt in a tackle by Bradley Johnson but the news is better on his ankle injury and, along with captain Gary Caldwell and fellow defenders Antolin Alcaraz and Ivan Ramis, he should feature over the Christmas period.

"Straight away I knew James was hurt and that is a really bad sensation," said Martinez. "Fortunately now the scan has revealed it's only grade one (damage) in his ankle so we'll get him back on the pitch as quickly as we can."

Martinez is also keeping his fingers crossed for good news when Watson's cast is removed today on the leg he broke in a freak incident against Liverpool last month.

"Today we're going to change the cast and hopefully check the healing of the bone is going well," added the Spaniard. "I do feel he's progressing along the lines that we thought and hopefully he'll be back sooner than we expected when it happened."

Wigan, meanwhile, can look forward to a new face joining the club in January after Honduras midfielder Roger Espinoza was given the green light to move to the Premier League by the Football Association on Monday.

The 26-year-old's Major League Soccer contract with Sporting Kansas City runs out at the end of the month and he could make his debut in Wigan's FA Cup third-round tie against Bournemouth on January 5.

Espinoza first caught Martinez's eye at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, and he said: "We're really excited about Roger's signing because he's a player we've been following for a long time. He's someone who will bring a real desire and an arrogance of being able to cope with big environments."