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Apr, 29, 2013

McManaman grateful to Martinez

Callum McManaman has thanked Wigan manager Roberto Martinez for sticking by him after the storm surrounding his unpunished tackle on Massadio Haidara.

• Blog: A point won or two lost?

The 22-year-old became a figure of controversy when he escaped punishment for a knee-high challenge on defender Haidara during a 2-1 Premier League win over Newcastle on March 17. McManaman was confronted by Newcastle assistant manager John Carver and faced widespread criticism over the challenge.

That was Wigan's last match before the recent international break, and the forward had to wait nearly two weeks to find out if he would keep his place for their next game against Norwich.

McManaman told the Daily Express: "There was a long wait after the game for the next match, but what happened didn't get me down or affect how I prepared for Norwich.

"I was desperate to get back on the training pitch and make sure I was in the starting line-up for Norwich.

"When the gaffer put me in that team it was a big moment and, from that point onwards, I like to think that I have progressed well and also become a stronger part of the team."

McManaman has responded to the manager's support with a couple of key goals and some impressive performances.

He scored the goal that ensured Wigan's FA Cup final place as they beat Millwall 2-0 at Wembley on April 13.

And his powerful volley put the Latics in front against Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday, before a late Emmerson Boyce own goal forced them to settle for a 2-2 draw.

That result has left Wigan two points from a position of safety, a gap that will widen if Aston Villa get anything from Monday night's home game against Sunderland.

But team-mate James McArthur believes McManaman's mental strength – allied to his ability – can help get Wigan out of trouble.

The midfielder told the Guardian: "He's a strong character. A lot of bad things were said about him but it was a challenge he made to try to win the ball.

"He's a winner but he wouldn't intentionally hurt somebody. He's really lighting up the Premier League now. He's been a great addition and we hope he can keep doing that between now and the end of the season."

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