Roy Hodgson, the West Bromwich Albion manager, has ruled leading scorer Peter Odemwingie out of tomorrow's Premier League game at relegation-threatened Wigan because of a calf problem.
The Nigeria forward has been back to his best in recent weeks despite having to play in a wide right role, scoring five of his 10 goals so far this season in the space of two games against Wolves and Sunderland.
Odemwingie played in last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Manchester United but struggled with the injury and Hodgson said yesterday: "He is a doubt for the Wigan game. It's a calf strain. In fact, I wouldn't think he will make it. Peter was complaining about the problem a bit before the United game and when we came off afterwards. But it opens the door for a few people."
The likes of Shane Long, Somen Tchoyi and Simon Cox will be challenging for a spot, but Hodgson is unlikely to switch from the 4-5-1 formation which has proved successful recently, with Marc-Antoine-Fortune the only out-and-out central striker.
Hodgson also has defensive problems to resolve with centre-back Jonas Olsson suspended after his red card at Old Trafford, while right-back Steven Reid is sidelined long term with his ankle injury. In addition, midfielder Keith Andrews was unable to train this week because of a knee problem.
But Hodgson said: "Everyone can point to maybe two, three, four injuries and we just have to get on with it."
Tomorrow Albion are laying on free coaches for 4,500 fans travelling to the DW Stadium to thank them for their support this season. Hodgson said: "Our support, home and away, has been good, but 4,500 is an exceptional crowd to be taking to an away game because Wigan is not exactly on the doorstep.
"We thank the fans very much for that and will be working very hard to show how much we value their support by giving a good performance."
Hodgson has challenged his players to put the United setback behind them after previously winning three straight games to move well clear of the relegation zone. He said: "You've got to be careful taking too many positives from defeats, but we were on an excellent run prior to Old Trafford where we were obliged to play for long periods for 10 men. I hope we put that game behind us, not let it affect our confidence and form, and carry on where we left off against Chelsea a couple of weeks ago."
His opposite number tomorrow, Wigan's manager Roberto Martinez, has called for his side to harness their experience from last season as they bid to ensure top-flight survival.
The club are currently one point behind Wolves and QPR in the other relegation places, with Bolton and Blackburn hovering above the bottom three in a five-way fight to avoid the drop.
Last season, Wigan dodged relegation with a final-day win against Stoke, and Martinez declared: "The last campaign we were in a similar position, probably a worse position with 10 games to go, so we know exactly what we have to get through and what level we have to reproduce.
"The hardest thing in football or in life in general is going into the unknown. We would prefer to be in a different position but the truth is, we know what to expect and we know what to do – and we can control our destiny by performing well.
"The last campaign was a really good experience. The youngsters at our football club are ready to cope with what's ahead of us and that's a real strength. Experience is a big word and sometimes it's difficult to describe it but clearly it's a strength now."
Wigan have only won one league game at home this season and Martinez added: "We know what to expect and how thin the margins are, and that's something we need to push ourselves and force us to be as good as we can be. We know what it's going to be like in the next 10 games."Reuse content