Latics boss 'excited' by Bolton clash
Roberto Martinez believes Wigan will be spurred on in the derby against Bolton by a desire to put behind them the one that got away. Latics were 2-0 up at Newcastle with 18 minutes remaining last weekend but had to settle for a draw after Fabricio Coloccini equalised in the final moments of injury time. The result at least extended Wigan's unbeaten run to three league games as they continue to recover from a nightmare start to the season that saw them concede 10 goals in games against Blackpool and Chelsea. And Martinez is hoping the derby atmosphere generated by a clash between two clubs situated less than 10 miles apart can provide the perfect stage for Wigan to hit back in style. The manager said: "They're always really passionate encounters, a real derby, and it's a home game. "We're coming off the back of a very good performance in the first half (against Newcastle) but we couldn't get the three points and we felt really disappointed. "So the dressing room is desperate to get back on the football pitch and get rid of that feeling. We're all really excited to give something to the fans to be proud of." Bolton are also in good form having gone four matches unbeaten and experienced the opposite emotion to Wigan last weekend thanks to Ivan Klasnic's injury-time winner against Stoke. That moved the Trotters two points above their neighbours, which was enough to put eight places between them in the congested Premier League table. "It's so tight," said Martinez. "The Premier League is fascinating the way it's developing, it seems any team that has the right approach can get points against anyone. "It's already forming the top seven and then the rest - there's only five points difference between the bottom club and seventh position. "That shows it's not the moment to look at the table, it's the moment to get the level of performance you can maintain consistently and improve on throughout the campaign. "I've been really pleased with the level of performances we've given over the past eight games, which is a long time in football. Now it's a matter of carrying on with our level and making sure we get the rewards the performance deserves. "On Saturday we couldn't do that, and that's something we're going to learn from. We've never been in that situation before and there were things we could have done better." Wigan were written off as relegation certainties in some quarters after their terrible start but are gradually proving their critics wrong. Martinez is excited by the potential among the DW Stadium ranks but is cautious of looking too far ahead. The Spaniard said: "The standards that we've got on a day-to-day basis are really healthy and the competition that is developing is really exciting. "Slowly you're starting to see a new group of players that is developing together and getting stronger and stronger, that gets you really excited about the future. "But you need to get the short term right as well, which is why the game against Bolton is so important. At home, we need to take the extra bit of responsibility and carry on the good work." Martinez will be forced into a change in goal, where Chris Kirkland will make his first appearance since August. Current number one Ali Al Habsi is ineligible for the game against his parent club so former England stopper Kirkland comes in. Youngster Lee Nicholls will be on the bench, with veteran Mike Pollitt sidelined following elbow surgery. Striker Franco Di Santo, who had 10 stitches in his lip this week after a collision in training, and Steve Gohouri are slight doubts but club captain Gary Caldwell will not be risked as he continues his recovery from double hip surgery.
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