Martinez demands focus on survival

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has warned his players their Wembley places will be in jeopardy if they do not perform in the league.

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The Latics have an FA Cup semi-final, their first in their history, against Championship side Millwall next month.

But the Spaniard has left no-one in any doubt of the club's priority - survival.

"The moment you, as a player, lose your focus you lose any involvement in the cup so it is a very straightforward situation," said Martinez, who has no qualms about playing youngsters or fringe players in the semi-final if he feels they warrant a place.

"What is important is now everyone has a unique opportunity, a great prize, to play at Wembley which is a great reward for any player in their career.

"Clearly every place is up in the air and the next three games in the league is going to be where the positions for Wembley are going to be decided.

"The best way to prepare for Wembley is with your level in the league and I don't see it as a distraction at all - I see it as an opportunity for players to be rewarded with their good form in the league.

"Believe me, no-one will lose their focus here of what is the priority and that is the league.

"Our season, in many respects, starts now."

Martinez has never shied away from the fact remaining in the Premier League has to take precedent over anything else.

And he believes this season the Latics are embroiled in the toughest relegation battle of his four-year reign at the DW Stadium.

Just 10 points separate 10th-placed Fulham (33) and bottom side QPR and although the Latics' cup involvement saw them drop back into the relegation zone last weekend, the Spaniard does not expect the current bottom three to be the same at the end of the season.

"When you are involved in the cup you are fighting for something special and we are going to enjoy it," he added.

"But the league competition is completely different and that is our title.

"All the plans in place for the future mean it is vitally important we stay in this division.

"It is an exciting end to the season because there is lots to win but we are still very focused and appreciating being involved in this league and we don't want to lose that status.

"The teams in the bottom three I don't think are going to stay there, there will be other teams involved and it will go down to the final day once more.

"Year after year that fight becomes harder because teams are more prepared and stronger to cope with the demands in that final push.

"I do see it as the strongest fight out of the last four I've been involved in.

"There is a very tight group in the middle of the table and until you get the points you need it is a difficult position to be in.

"Clearly 40 points will give you safety but from that point down you are relying on very small margins like goal difference.

"It is impossible to tell now because the games left are between teams involved in the bottom eight and they will have a massive bearing on the final points tally needed."



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