Wigan are growing in adversity claims Roberto Martinez

Latics missing key personnel ahead of QPR match

Roberto Martinez believes Wigan will be stronger for the injury and suspension problems that are threatening to derail their Barclays Premier League campaign.

The Latics go into tomorrow's clash with basement side QPR at the DW Stadium looking to avoid a third straight defeat and without eight senior players.

Defender Antolin Alcaraz and playmaker Shaun Maloney (both groin) are close to fitness but unlikely to feature tomorrow while midfielder Ben Watson (broken leg), wingers Albert Crusat (knee) and Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) and defender Ivan Ramis (hamstring) are also out.

To cap Martinez's selection problems, centre-backs Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa are both suspended, with Wigan failing in an appeal against the latter's red card in Monday's 3-0 defeat by Newcastle.

The Wigan boss said: "We've got four centre-halfs missing and that doesn't happen a lot but I'm really pleased in the manner the other players have been working, and they've been waiting for their chance.

"That's what we want to create at the football club, a structure where you've got players ready to come in and to perform in the manner we want to play.

"Adrian Lopez came in against Reading and he performed against Manchester City and Newcastle at a very high level. Emmerson Boyce has been outstanding in that new role.

"I never look at the players that aren't there, it's the opposite. And once we get through this period we're going to be a stronger squad and a squad ready to finish the season really strong."

Martinez would certainly have wished for more options for such an important game as tomorrow's. Rangers remain bottom of the table, eight points behind Wigan in 16th, but have drawn both of their games under new manager Harry Redknapp.

The Latics are hoping to avoid another relegation battle, and Martinez is happy for the magnitude of the game to be talked up.

He said: "We want to be aware of the levels of expectation. The squad has been stretched to the maximum in the last three games with the players that we've had missing and I felt we reacted in a great manner and performed really well.

"In the last two games we feel frustrated that we couldn't get positive results to reflect some of the good things that we've done.

"You don't want to look away from the reality of the next game, which is a very important one from our point of view. We've had two defeats and we want to change that, and we have to change that.

"QPR are starting to bring a little bit of consistency in their play since Harry Redknapp arrived.

"You can see in their last two games, they got two positive results, they're playing with a real togetherness and they'll be looking at every game that they've got in front of them from now on as must-win games to get out of the position they're in."

Redknapp replaced Mark Hughes last month following the Welshman's sacking. The 65-year-old took over Tottenham when they were in a similar position four years ago, and Martinez expects him to turn around Rangers' fortunes.

"He brings real experience," said the Spaniard. "In football there is nothing better than knowing what to expect when you go into a challenge, that's a real advantage.

"Harry Redknapp has been in that situation before, he's been in a very successful team that had great times in the Champions League, and that brings a real feeling of confidence.

"He's going to get the best out of every single player. They've got very talented footballers and the moment they get a positive result they'll get a real competitive edge about them."

Martinez has called for the same support from the fans they received against Reading two weeks ago, when a Jordi Gomez hat-trick earned the Latics a last-gasp victory.

He added: "From our point of view, it's a home match and I did feel against Reading, in the second half, we started something special with the fans, I thought they were magnificent.

"They made us feel really comfortable and they allowed us to be ourselves. For us that's the challenge, to play in that manner at home and QPR is the next opportunity."

PA

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