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Boot Room

Martinez hopeful of keeping McCarthy

Arsenal look set to miss out on promising midfielder James McCarthy, with Wigan poised to tie the 20-year-old to a fresh deal.

The Republic of Ireland international produced a series of eye-catching performances last term as his side narrowly managed to avoid relegation. And his impressive displays have fuelled speculation regarding his future, with the Gunners leading the way for the youngster's signature.

The talented Glasgow-born player, who moved to Wigan two years ago from Hamilton on a five-year contract, looks set to play a crucial role at the DW Stadium this season and boss Roberto Martinez is confident the club can hang on to one of their biggest assets.

"James is a big diamond of ours," Martinez said. "I felt he had a tremendous season last campaign and he deserves a reward. We've got another five or six players that we're going to look to try to reward and give them new contracts.

"We're still in talks, nothing has been finalised, but it's not a real secret that we want to reward the players who have been performing well and developing with us, and James McCarthy is in that group."

Meanwhile, Martinez has moved to quash reports of a rift with striker Hugo Rodallega, whose contract runs out at the end of the season. The Colombian has attracted the attention of a host of clubs but Martinez insists he wants him to stay "for the long-term".

"We've never had a problem with Hugo," he said. "I know there's been a few things in the press, I don't know where they've come from. We would love to have Hugo here for the long term but at the moment it's not a priority.

"His agent's in Colombia, we've got a very good relationship, and we'll see what develops from there. But my focus on Hugo is for him to be as fit as he can be because when he's on top form he's a unique player and an important player."


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