IAN Holloway has saluted Angel Martinez for having the bottle to stand up to a battle.
The Spanish midfielder is a cultured footballer, who loves to get on the ball and spread passes to either flank.
What he isn’t known for is getting stuck in and making meaty 50-50 challenges.
That, however, is exactly what he had to do at Watford, in what was a physical game to say the least – and, if selected, he’ll need to do the same again when Barnsley visit today.
Holloway, though, now knows Martinez has the appetite for a scrap.
“The Watford game was a different type of game to the Southampton one, and we had to stand up and be counted,” said the boss.
“But we did it, even lads like Angel Martinez.
“I don’t think he has ever had to play in a match like that before.
“I can’t tell you what he said afterwards, but the second word was ‘hell’.
“I don’t think he has ever had so many aerial challenges in his life, yet he did it while still managing to bring that Spanish flair to proceedings.
“When the opposition play at such a tempo, as Watford did, you don’t think you’ve got any time on the ball. But I kept telling them they had more time than they thought, if they could use that extra man in midfield, and I am proud we tried to do that.
“Angel passed it when we needed him to, and he has been majestic in the last two games.”
Martinez has kept skipper Barry Ferguson out of the side for the last two matches.
But Holloway may decide to change things today, and give some of the players who were involved at Watford a breather.
As well as a return for Ferguson, Stephen Crainey is likely to come back, while Kevin Phillips – fit again after a nagging groin problem – is set to replace Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who will be rested after taking a whack to the head at Watford.