Martinez supports Pompey bid

Wigan manager believes FA Cup finallists should be allowed to play in Europe
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The Independent Football

The Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez believes Avram Grant should fight tooth and nail to ensure Portsmouth play in Europe next season.

After reaching next month's FA Cup final, Pompey would ordinarily be granted a place in the Europa League as opponents Chelsea will again be in the Champions League.

However, Portsmouth did not apply for a Uefa club licence ahead of the 1 March deadline for English teams to lodge paperwork with the Football Association.

Pompey can submit a retrospective application with the FA ahead of a May 31 Uefa deadline, albeit they will have to prove by then they are financially sound just weeks after entering administration.

Administrator Andrew Andronikou has revealed the club face "an uphill struggle" in terms of making an appeal as they do not have audited accounts, one of the requirements for the licence. Andronikou has insisted to "doing our best to get the club into Europe," with Martinez knowing he would do the same if he was in Grant's shoes.

"You should fight because every success they've had in the cup has been down to performances," said Martinez ahead of his side's match with Portsmouth at the DW Stadium tonight.

"You look at the performance they put in in the FA Cup semi-final win over Spurs, and that's a great reward for the club, players and the manager – everyone connected with Portsmouth.

"It has been a tough season for them, for a team that has coped with so many incidents off the pitch. It has resulted in a big debate as to where you draw the line between the financial mess and the effect on the football pitch.

"It's quite clear the authorities need to look at their financial problems, the reasons for it, and if they had something to do with this success. It's difficult to separate both issues because they are linked together, but I think the authorities will find a solution.

"I'm sure Avram Grant, though, will have a clear idea they should be in Europe after their achievements in the Cup, and I don't think many people could argue with that."

With Portsmouth relegated 24 hours before their Cup triumph over Spurs, Martinez has no doubts Wigan will be playing a side now freed from the shackles of their turbulent season.

"I know they are relegated, but we all know what they are capable of, and their season is still alive for many reasons, so we will have to be at our best," added Martinez.

"Given the individual quality within their squad, it is surprising they are in the position they are in in the table. But we know we are going to face a team in a good moment mentally, who really enjoyed their football in the semi-final."

Wigan go into the game desperate for a win to ease their own fears of relegation as they are currently one place and four points above the drop zone. After a weekend off to recharge the batteries, Martinez said: "It was good because we were at the end of a very demanding period. It's good to re-focus and to be refreshed, mentally and physically, for the next five games which are a fantastic challenge."

Martinez will again be without defender Gary Caldwell who serves the second of a three-match ban. However, Emmerson Boyce could return after missing the last three games with a back problem, but Hendry Thomas is doubtful with a quad injury.