Roberto Martinez not overly concerned as Wigan slip into relegation zone

Confidence of players has not been affected insists manager

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has emphasised he and his players are not about to let the fact they have dropped into the Barclays Premier League relegation zone get them down.

The Latics slipped to 18th in the table on Tuesday when Sunderland moved out of the bottom three and up to 15th by beating Reading 3-0.

It would appear to be a worrying development for Wigan, but they are just a point behind the Black Cats and two behind 14th-placed Newcastle, while 16th-placed Southampton and 17th-placed Aston Villa are ahead of them on goal difference alone.

And while Martinez is dissatisfied with the total of 15 points his side have accrued after 16 games, he is keen to point out that there is no despondency in the camp over the present standings.

Asked if Wigan's confidence had taken a knock by how the table had altered on Tuesday, the Spaniard - speaking ahead of tomorrow's league trip to Norwich - said: "No.

"We are not happy with the points tally we have got, but we are not looking at the (positions in the) table because the small margins are showing - we have three teams divided by goal difference.

"In December, your position in the table only gives you an indication.

"I'm very happy with where we are in terms of the way we are performing and the strong football concepts we have shown.

"It is clear what we have to improve and I don't think we are very far away from turning our good performances into consistent, good scorelines.

"That is where the work is, and that work has to start now and go until the end of the season.

"But the attitude of the players and some of the football this season has been consistently of the highest standard."

Wigan - victorious only once in their last six matches - are taking on a very much in-form Norwich outfit, currently 12th and on a nine-game unbeaten run in the league.

During that sequence the Canaries have won their last four home top-flight games in a row, including 1-0 victories over Arsenal and Manchester United, and on Saturday triumphed 4-3 at Swansea.

Martinez has no doubt his team will tomorrow be coming up against opponents whose self-belief could not be greater.

"You look at their last nine league games and they have been competitive in every single one of them," Martinez said.

"They are unbeaten, they are capable of beating top teams at home and they are capable of going away from home and scoring four goals.

"They are a very difficult team to visit and we need to be well aware.

"You have to be at your best if you want to compete against this Norwich side.

"It is fair to say that they are in the best moment of their season in terms of confidence and belief, and that is going to be a real test."

Wigan have defender Maynor Figueroa back available for tomorrow's contest but the Latics are still struggling with injuries.

Both Figueroa and skipper Gary Caldwell have completed one-match suspensions, but while the former is now eligible for selection, the latter looks unlikely to feature due to a hamstring problem.

Caldwell's fellow centre-back Ivan Ramis also appears set to miss out due to a hamstring complaint, and Antolin Alcaraz (groin), Albert Crusat (knee), Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) and Ben Watson (broken leg) are all definite absentees.

PA

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