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

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
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

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003