Wigan boss denies row ahead of Blackpool trip

Wigan Athletic's Manager Roberto Martinez

Wigan Athletic's Manager Roberto Martinez

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Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has rubbished suggestions of a rift with striker Hugo Rodallega following his decision to substitute the Colombian last week.

Rodallega appeared to react angrily when taken off after 63 minutes of the bottom side’s 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Chelsea.

Martinez claims the incident shows his players have the passion required for the final six games of the season.

The Spaniard said: “It is the natural reaction.

“He wants to be on the pitch and help the team, and that is something that shows real passion and real responsibility.

“Obviously we have a very strong squad now and he did his job.

“He has got the same responsibility to help another team-mate come on and carry on playing well for the team.

“There is nothing unhealthy, nothing strange. It is not a problem at all.

“It is just a real desire to help the team and that is something I wouldn’t like all the players to lose, that passion and wanting to play every minute.”

Rodallega is Wigan’s top scorer this season with seven goals but the 25-year-old has not found the net in two months.

Martinez needs his players to start winning games as time runs out but he has no doubts about their desire to perform.

He added: “Everyone is committed and desperate to play a part.

“We are bottom of the table but everyone is fully fit. You don’t see that many times.

“There is that air of responsibility in the dressing room.

“Everyone wants to be on the pitch, they are frustrated and disappointed when they are not.

“We have got huge respect for each other in the dressing room and it is important we help each other perform at the maximum.”

Wigan face a crucial trip to fellow strugglers Blackpool on Saturday.

Martinez’s side are relegation favourites with many bookmakers but avenging their opening-day loss to Blackpool would lift them above the Seasiders and possibly out of the bottom three for the first time since January.

Martinez has spoken positively about performances all season but now accepts they must yield points and has a definite figure in mind for survival.

“The target is 10 points,” he said. “I don’t want to hide from it.

“It is going to be a really demanding end of the season for many clubs and I don’t think anything less than 41 points will be good for us.

“I think with the level we have shown over the last eight games we are capable of achieving that.

“But obviously now is the time to start collecting wins. The performances have been very good but it is time to win games.”

Left-back Maynor Figueroa will be Wigan’s only major absentee at Bloomfield Road due to suspension.