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Martinez planning to hold onto key stars

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez has vowed not sell his best players during the January window.

James McCarthy
James McCarthy is said to be interesting Everton and Arsenal

Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy is a reported target for Everton and Arsenal while Franco Di Santo and Maynor Figueroa have also been linked with moves to other Premier League clubs.

Martinez believes that is a sign of the progress Wigan have made that scouts are watching his major talents, but he said the club has no intention of cashing in while the club is in the midst of a relegation battle.

"I've always said it's a real compliment when you've got teams looking at our players,” he said. "It doesn't surprise me at all. I think we've got players who could attract anyone's interest. That's not going to bring anything negative to our squad - it's the opposite.

"Everything is about Wigan Athletic at this point and individual situations will always be resolved in the best interests of the football club. We haven't got the financial power that other football clubs have but probably we are in one of the strongest positions. Our accounts are well balanced and we're making a profit.

"If we lose any players, it's going to be for the good of the football club. We're not in a position where we're going to sell our best performers or our best assets. That's never happened before.

“Whenever we lost players, it's been at the right price and at the right time and I don't think January is the right time to lose any of our important players when we're right in the middle of the [relegation] fight."

Meanwhile, Antolin Alcaraz is finally closing in on his long-awaited return to the team. The Paraguayan defender, whose last appearance was in August, has come through a practice match unscathed.

The 30-year-old has not played for the relegation-threatened Latics since August’s Capital One Cup tie against Nottingham Forest, when he was both hurt and sent off. He then suffered a groin injury while away on international duty in South America.

Martinez told the Wigan Evening Post: “We need to make sure we don’t push him now, having been so patient for so long, but he’s already played 20 minutes behind closed doors and he came through that fine.

“From a medical point of view, he is nearly, nearly there, and will probably come back into the equation over the next couple of games. He’s back training with the group and he’s slowly adapting to the workload. It’s more a case of adaptation to work now rather than injury healing.”

With Alcaraz out, Wigan have had a defensive injury crisis and, at one stage, Martinez was without his four premier central defenders - Maynor Figueroa, Gary Caldwell, Ivan Ramis and the Paraguayan - but the Spaniard hopes his injury problems are at an end, adding: “We have had so many players missing this season that, if we can get them all back this month, they could become the most important signings anyone will make this month.

“They are players who already know the football club, already know the team, and who have been very successful here in the past.”

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