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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 21, 2011

Martinez wants end to loan rules

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has called for the restriction on the number of loan players Premier League clubs can recruit from their rivals to be scrapped.

Premier League clubs are currently restricted to just two loan signings from their Premier League counterparts.

Martinez's Wigan outfit have been one of those to benefit this term thanks to the arrival of Tom Cleverley from Manchester United and his side could come face to face with another United loanee at the Stadium of Light on Saturday if Danny Welbeck is fit to play for Sunderland.

Bolton are also making good use of the present system, following up last year's success with Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere by providing similar impetus to the career of Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge this time around.

However, at a time when Football Association director of youth development Sir Trevor Brooking is expressing concern about the number of chances English-qualified players are getting at the highest level, Martinez believes more can be done.

"The structure in the British game is not good enough,'' said the Latics chief. "We are not helping ourselves because the FA are restricting their own players. Instead of just having Welbeck, Cleverley and Sturridge, we could have five or six players on loan. At the moment it is just two, with as many as you want from abroad.

"That is a real shame because young players in England need opportunities to play football.''

According to Martinez, the example of Cleverley is particularly pertinent. The former Swansea manager accepts there is no way United boss Sir Alex Ferguson would let the midfielder leave Old Trafford on a permanent basis.

However, having released him to Watford for some first-team experience last term, further development was required before Cleverley was ready to compete for a place at a club whose aims are to win the Premier League, rather than just to improve within it.

"Tom had a great season with Watford. It was what he needed,'' Martinez added. "But there is a big gap between the Premier League and the Championship and another season at that level would have been a step backwards. I know Sir Alex wants him back. I spoke with him a couple of times and he feels Tom will be ready for the senior squad next season.

"It is bad news for us but there is real satisfaction in helping his development. He has played a lot of minutes with us that he wouldn't have had at his parent club. He will get the benefit of that in future years.''

The experience of high-pressure matches is invaluable in the progression of any player and there is no doubt Cleverley has been involved in a few over the past few weeks as Wigan scrapped for their lives.

Written off by virtually everyone, Martinez's men have emerged from a testing run of fixtures in far better shape than it was thought possible.

Saturday's win at Blackpool saw them clamber out of the bottom three and if they follow that result up by maintaining a decent set of results on Wearside, where they have lost only twice in eight trips, they will be a single point behind a club being touted as European contenders only a couple of months ago.

"I always felt that we would click as a team,'' said Martinez. "Finally we have got the partnerships on the pitch and physically we are ready to compete. It is difficult. We are running out of games and there is a lot of pressure on the players to get results.

"But I am convinced 41 points will earn us the right to play another 38 matches in the Premier League next season and the players are ready to get that tally.''

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