Wigan V Wolverhampton at The DW Stadium : Match Preview

12 May 2012 03:31
Caldwell a leader - Martinez.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has paid tribute to captain Gary Caldwell, praising the way the Scot has brought together a diverse dressing room at the DW Stadium and fostered the team spirit which has helped guide the club to safety. Caldwell, who joined from Celtic in 2010, has been key to a remarkable late-season surge that has seen the Barclays Premier League outfit secure their survival in the division with one game to go. Wigan ensured they will be playing top-flight football for an eighth successive campaign next term when they triumphed 1-0 at Blackburn on Monday night - their sixth victory in eight matches. Before that sequence of results - which also featured shock wins over Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle - the Latics were joint-bottom of the league but the dramatic turnaround means they head into the final day of the season lying 15th, five points clear of the drop zone. With the odds looking stacked against them, Martinez's cosmopolitan squad has shown great strength and unity to haul themselves out of trouble, something the Spaniard feels Caldwell, who this week picked up Wigan's player of the year award, has been at the heart of. Speaking at a press conference to preview his team's season-closing home clash with already-relegated bottom side Wolves, Martinez said: "Gary has been a very consistent character and I think you have seen that since he arrived at the football club. "I don't think it has just been this season - it is part of his nature. "He is a leader and someone who has real high standards and that affects other players. "I think the biggest strength of Gary is that he has been able to get the whole group together. "Remember, our group - it is not a difficult one but it is a challenge because you have got 12 or 13 different nationalities. "That brings various cultural differences but he has managed to get it together and we have the meaning of playing for Wigan Athletic as the direction for everyone. "He also deserves the credit he is getting because he has had a very strong season. "The second half of the season has been really, really good and he has developed very strong partnerships with people around him. "He has been a real credit to himself and his family and we are very proud to have him here at Wigan." Former Wolves player David Jones is Wigan's only fitness concern.

Terry Connor believes new Wolves manager Stale Solbakken will be under pressure to guide the club straight back to the Barclays Premier League. Former FC Copenhagen and Cologne boss Solbakken has been announced as Mick McCarthy's successor and will be unveiled to the media on Monday. Interim boss Connor failed in his attempt to keep Wolves in the top flight and will be aiming for his first win in 13 attempts at Wigan. He said: "Whoever was in charge, there would be big pressure to get back (to the Premier League). We'll be no doubt one of the favourites to return so there'll always be pressure on. "Wolves is a big club with a lot of tradition. We want to play in the Premier League. "Whoever took over would have found themselves under pressure to deliver Premier League football. "Stale will want to win some games and get us out of the Championship as soon as possible. "He'll come into a club that's ready to turn their fortunes around. I think there's a good platform here to work from." Connor was one of the candidates to replace McCarthy but will have no problem reverting to being one of the Wolves backroom team - a role he has filled for 13 years. He knows results under his command did not aid his hopes of being given the job full-time. Connor said: "I'm just a man who works for Wolves. I was asked to work for 13 games as manager and, on Sunday, I will complete that. "I was told that after that time the club would make decisions for the good of the club. They made their decision and I always said I would abide by their decision. "I'll meet Stale on Monday and I'll offer every assistance I can from that day on going forwards. "I'm a football man and I know, if you draw four games out of 12, it's not going to put you in the best light for the job. "That is the case no matter what's been done on the training pitch, or what people are saying like how well I've worked with people behind the scenes. "Results are the most important thing and I understand that." Winger Michael Kightly (groin) is unlikely to be available after being unable to train this week.

Source: PA