Wigan united on dual fronts
Roberto Martinez is adamant that everyone in Wigan's squad is pulling together as they prepare for a vital end to the season.
A 2-0 win against Millwall saw Wigan book their first-ever FA Cup final berth while they sit inside the Premier League relegation zone but have two games in hand, leaving the possibility of another dramatic escape open.
In recent weeks club captain Gary Caldwell and established number one goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi have lost their place in the starting eleven, but Martinez insists everyone is happy to contend for a spot in the team.
"Competition for places has stepped up a percentage, the level of training has increased and we have been unbeaten in the league since then," he said. "Players are desperate to help the team. There are no individual cases, from now until the end of the season it is about what we can do as a football club.
"There is a bigger role than playing or not playing. Everyone is aware the achievement as a team is more important than individuals. We have players who are fully aware of what they need to bring to the team and everyone is expecting to be used from now until the end of the season.
"If you have a player who is happy not to play he needs to move on, he's in the wrong business. Every player should be desperate to play and be disappointed for one second but after that there is a real sense of the group and what the team needs.
"People are very committed, they are desperate to help the team, but when they are on or off the pitch they know how to behave themselves. I think that is what we have showed in the last few weeks - a big club mentality in terms of facing every single game and forgetting about the individuals."
After making only one change in the last five matches - introducing Al Habsi for the win against Millwall – Martinez knows that he must monitor his players closely to guard against fatigue.
"I think it is more difficult because you need to make sure those players are fresh enough to keep playing and I think it is important to make sure we don't overload certain players,'' he said.
"What is important as well is to give a sense of continuity but I know we could make three changes and that wouldn't affect our performance and that is a very important feeling to have as a manager.
"When you can make changes from one game to another and not have a problem from a tactical point of view shows the work which has been put in over the last 10 months or so."
The prospect of a cup final at Wembley might provide a distraction for some, but Martinez is confident that his Wigan side will take one game at a time.
"For us being involved in two competitions at this time of the season is exactly what we needed as a football club if we want to step up to the next level," he added.
"I think we showed a really natural way of switching on to the league. We have such an important game (against City) I don't think you are allowed to celebrate too much.
"Once we have the FA Cup final in front of us then we will be able to get into the cup mode again. It becomes a really exciting target to have at the end of the season but it was exactly the same position after the quarter-final.
"The only way to be part of it is how you are going to perform and contribute in between."