Martinez cool over prospect of facing Bale

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is not losing any sleep over how to stop Gareth Bale.

Gareth Bale, Tottenham

It has been a task beyond most Premier League defences and there must have been a point two or three weeks ago when Martinez wondered whether he would have to give any thought to it as Bale was laid low by an ankle injury.

Unfortunately for Wigan, the brilliant Welshman recovered in time to face Manchester City last weekend, and scored his 18th league goal of the season as Spurs rallied to win 3-1.

That came 24 hours after Martinez had seen key defender Antolin Alcaraz limp out of his own side's defeat at West Ham with a hamstring injury that will keep the Paraguayan on the sidelines for three weeks.

It was not the news Martinez needed ahead of a crucial phase of his side's relegation fight.

But the Latics chief does not see any point worrying about it.

"Tottenham can only play with 11. They can't play with 13 or 14," he said.

"If Gareth Bale didn't play it would just be someone else and their squad is of the highest level, so it is not as if it would be substantially easier for us if he wasn't there.

"We all agree Bale is one of the best players in world football. He will always bring an extra threat.

"But if you want to beat a team like Spurs, with Gareth Bale or not, you need a very good level of performance."

After years of scrapping for survival, a nagging feeling persists that events are conspiring against Wigan.

Alcaraz's absence is a hammer blow and while a first appearance in the FA Cup final - against Manchester City next month - will be an experience to savour, the fact it comes at the end of a week which includes fixtures against West Brom and Swansea makes their run-in exceptionally hazardous.

Typically though, Martinez retains an unshakeable confidence in his troops, which comes from so many similar battles.

"Every season is different," he said. "There is an inner confidence that comes from your own experience.

"The players went through it in the last campaign and they went through it two years ago when it went down to the last game of the season.

"That is part of our aim. We have to stay in the Premier League. That is what we want to achieve.

"We are in exactly the same situation as Spurs. They are in the final games of the season, trying to achieve their aims, which is to qualify for the Champions League. Our aim is different but the end feeling is the same.

"We need to enjoy the challenge and make sure we are as good as we can be.

"Where the experience of previous seasons can help us is that is ensures we will not get affected by the occasion."



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