'He has not a nasty bone': Roberto Martinez defends Callum McManaman after 'horror challenge'

Wigan striker made high challenge on Massadio Haidara

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is confident striker Callum McManaman will not face retrospective punishment for his horror challenge on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara.

The 20-year-old escaped censure from referee Mark Halsey after a knee-high tackle on the Magpies substitute in the first half of their crucial 2-1 victory.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew claimed at half-time Halsey apologised to him "if he missed anything" but Martinez is confident his striker will not receive a ban - which would rule him out of their historical Wembley FA Cup semi-final - as a result of television evidence.

"What you need to look at in those incidents is if there is intention, a nastiness about the tackle. We are not a nasty team," he said.

"He (McManaman) has not a nasty bone and is not bad-intentioned.

"The referee was in a perfect position, he is looking at the incident, where the ball is and where the ball is hitting.

"When you get the ball and then there is a follow-up it is very difficult for a panel to punish that."

Haidara was already on his way back to Newcastle for further assessment on potential knee ligament damage by the time the second half kicked-off but Martinez stressed they would be contacting the player.

"Callum and Wigan will make sure we contact the player and wish him a speedy recovery," added the Latics boss.

"You don't want to see it (injuries) on the football pitch but unfortunately it happens.

"We have been on the back end of a broken leg with Ben Watson, James McCarthy has needed an operation on his ankle and Ryo Miyaichi is needing an operation now.

"Callum is just a young striker - unfortunately it was a poor tackle and enthusiasm probably threw him into that position.

"He needs to learn as a striker not to go into those situations."

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was understandably upset by the incident, which resulted in his assistant John Carver and Wigan coach Graham Barrow being sent to the stands after a melee developed at the end of the first half.

"It is an awful challenge. The pictures speak for themselves," said the Magpies boss.

"I thought it was a bad challenge and I was 60 yards for the incident.

"The players knew because they were on top of it and there was a lot of bad feeling about that incident when it goes unpunished.

"He (Halsey) said 'if I've missed it I apologise' - that was at half-time.

"If it goes unpunished it doubles the impact on the mentality of the players and the team and it did have an impact on us, you can't get away from that."

The furore overshadowed what was a vital three points for Wigan, who recorded their first home win since late November.

Arouna Kone struck a 90th-minute winner - controversially after an assist from a Maynor Figueroa handball - after Jean Beausejour's first-half goal had been cancelled out by Davide Santon's 18 minutes from the end.

PA

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