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Martinez: Kirkland ready for return
Published : 21 Oct 2010 16:09:00
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has complete faith in Chris Kirkland ahead of the goalkeeper's return to the first team, saying: "He's ready." The former Liverpool, Coventry and West Brom shot-stopper has not played for the Latics since conceding six goals against Chelsea in August. Martinez decided to change things after the thrashing against the defending Premier League champions and, with Kirkland's niggling back injury in mind, Ali Al-Habsi was promoted to the first XI. Al-Habsi, though, is ineligible to play against parent club Bolton on Saturday and Martinez insists he has no doubts about restoring former England international Kirkland to his line-up. The Wigan boss said of 29-year-old Kirkland, whose future at the DW Stadium has been questioned: "We have to remember Chris Kirkland wasn't fully fit at the start of the season. "He's been working really well, he's been pain free for a long time and he's ready. "Chris Kirkland's going to play at the weekend and that's something that we're all excited about. "Chris is not a young man, he's very, very experienced and he's always performed as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. "He's been a real help around the dressing room, giving the right advice at the right time. He's really helped the team and that's huge credit to him. "It's important as an experienced footballer to have an impact even when you're not in the first XI and Chris has been a fantastic example."