Form of Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi defended by Roberto Martinez

Oman international has made some high profile mistakes

Ali Al Habsi is one of the best goalkeepers in the Barclays Premier League, according to Wigan boss Roberto Martinez.

The 30-year-old, who signed for the Latics last year following a season-long loan from neighbours Bolton, has made two errors in his last two matches, but Martinez played down any concern over his form.

Al Habsi's blushes were spared against Reading last weekend when Jordi Gomez's last-minute winner took the focus away from the keeper's blunder after the ball bounced off him and into the net to make it 2-2.

The Oman international then failed to deny Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli on Wednesday night after he blocked Gareth Barry's shot from the edge of the area and stopped Balotelli's initial follow-up, but could do nothing with his second strike.

However, Martinez was quick to deflect any criticism away from his keeper.

"I don't think it was an error (against Manchester City)," the Wigan boss said.

"Ali in my eyes is one of the best in this league.

"Sometimes you expect Ali to save the unstoppable and that's very unfair.

"The shot from Gareth Barry was moving away a little bit and he came up with a world class save in the rebound but the unfortunate point is that the ball bounced straight into the striker's path and not the defender's path.

"I don't think that's a mistake at all. That's a little bit of misfortune.

"This new ball is quite tough for goalkeepers. His reaction for the first save was outstanding."

Martinez is confident his first-choice keeper will put any demons behind him for Monday's trip to Newcastle.

"Ali is such a confident player and internally he is a very strong human being," Martinez said.

"I would say his mental strength is his biggest quality.

"As a goalkeeper you need to be able to move on from action to action and he is not affected by that. It's not a confidence issue at all."

Martinez still has a host of injury problems to contend with for the clash at St James' Park despite an extra 48 hours of rest.

The Spaniard rated both defender Gary Caldwell and midfielder David Jones as "50/50" for the match, leaving him with eight players potentially ruled out through injury.

Jones picked up a knock to his calf during Wednesday's 2-0 defeat by Manchester City while Caldwell is recovering from a hamstring problem.

Midfielders Albert Crusat (knee) and Ben Watson (broken leg), winger Ryo Miyaichi (ankle), forward Shaun Maloney (groin) and defenders Antolin Alcaraz (groin) and Ivan Ramis (hamstring) remain on the sidelines.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea