Injury problems mount for Wigan
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez faces an injury crisis ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Reading.
The Latics could be without seven first team players due to injury with Ben Watson's broken leg and captain Gary Caldwell's hamstring problem the latest worries for the Spaniard. Midfielder James McArthur, strikers Franco Di Santo and Ryo Miyaichi, winger Albert Crusat and centre-back Antolin Alcaraz also look set to miss out. Watson, who broke his leg during last weekend's Premier League tie against Liverpool at Anfield, does offer Martinez a glimmer of hope, as the injury was a clean break meaning he will not require surgery and long-term rehabilitation. The Wigan boss is trying to stay positive despite his increasing casualty list.
"With Ben Watson we had great news because his treatment is conservative and he's got his leg in plaster and it will probably be a matter of six or seven weeks for us to get Ben back. It's still a big miss for the next few games," Martinez told reporters.
"Gary Caldwell, I don't think he will make the weekend. He had to come off at the weekend with a hamstring problem and I don't think he will be fit.
"With James McArthur, the signs now is that he won't be fit for Saturday. Ryo Miyaichi had a knock on his ankle and will be assessed over the next 48 hours, the same as Franco Di Santo who had a knock on his calf. "
Albert Crusat is reacting well to treatment but is probably a few weeks from full fitness and Antolin (Alcaraz) is wanting to increase his intensity in training but he hasn't joined the group yet. I would say probably the first week in December he will be fit to come back.
"That's probably the longest list we've had in some time."
Wigan, who have lost their last two league matches, face a Reading side who are fresh from their first Premier League win this term against an in-form Everton. The Latics are in 16th place in the overall league standings, just ahead of the Royals, and despite their increasing injury woes, Martinez believes his side have the strength-in-depth to cope and to win valuable points in the run up to the festive period.
"I think we are flexible tactically and if we need to change the shape we can do that so I don't see that as a negative," the Spaniard said.
"I do see it as an opportunity for other players that have been working really well since the start of the season and they haven't had the opportunity.
"As a football club you need to be able to go through periods where you have players missing through suspension and injuries and this situation is one of them.
"We've got four home games now before Christmas and they are really important from our point of view.
"We really have to get the best level. The level we showed against Everton and West Ham is the level we need to reproduce and whatever adversity of injuries and players missing we need to learn to adapt and be competitive again against the four teams we are going to face before Christmas."
Martinez has been a vocal critic of the way international fixtures are built into the season, with the windows for matches coming close together over the past couple of months. Alcaraz returned from World Cup qualification duty with Paraguay with his adductor injury, a fact that is not helping Wigan as other niggles start to mount up.
"It is a really frustrating feeling," Martinez said. "
At times you just hope you can get through the period. Football shouldn't be about hope. It should be about being well organised and being able to prepare for every single game and unfortunately that is not the case when we've got international fixtures.
"The reality is it's very unfair to expect players to fly all over the world and expect them to perform at the best of their abilities but unfortunately that's something we have to get on with."
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