'Refreshed' Rodallega key to opening Wigan escape route

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The Independent Football

The Wigan Athletic manager, Roberto Martinez, is convinced that a refreshed Hugo Rodallega can play a major role in the club's survival fight.

Monday night's 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City has left Wigan at the foot of the Premier League facing an uphill battle to preserve their top-flight status. With only one win and just 10 goals at the DW Stadium all season, it is easy to pinpoint where dramatic improvement is required. Rodallega could certainly help as the Colombian striker has found the net just once in 16 appearances.

Martinez is not the kind of manager to demand more goals instantly from the 26-year-old, as the Spaniard is too committed to the team ethic of collective improvement for that. However, after Rodallega missed pre-season owing to his Copa America campaign, then a short period out of the team because of injury, Martinez feels his No 1 striker is starting to find his form again.

"Hugo looks refreshed," the Wigan manager said yesterday. "He had a really tough start to the season because he did not have a proper break. Then he had a little bit of an injury. It is only in the last three weeks he has been himself and enjoying his football. At his best, he is a big asset. He is capable of opening things for us. We are really pleased with the level he has shown in the last three games.

"It would be unfair to say we rely on Hugo's goals," Martinez added. "He is a goalscorer but only in the same way, Conor Sammon, Franco di Santo, Victor Moses and Albert Crusat are players who can chip in. Goalscoring is an overall team responsibility."