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Wigan Athletic - Martinez Faces Keeper Dilema



Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez has a dilemma on his hands ahead of tomorrow`s game against Sunderland at the DW Stadium, Al-Habsi or Kirkland?

Chris Kirkland has had some very high profile injuries seemingly all his professional life and this is a real pity because there is no denying that the big shot stopper is a top quality goalkeeper when he is 100% fit.

Kirkland missed the last two games at the end of last season due to undergoing an operation on his hand to cure a long standing problem; he also missed an early preseason week long training camp in Sweden after suffering from a back spasm.

The injury concerns over Latics number 1 saw boss Roberto Martinez act swiftly in the transfer market, bringing in Oman international Ali Al-Habsi on a season long loan from near neighbours and Premier League rivals Bolton Wanderers.

Kirkland though recovered his fitness in time to make the season`s opener against Blackpool at the DW Stadium, not only did he start the game but he was also named captain in the absence of Gary Caldwell.

Big Chris had a game to forget unfortunately, conceding 4 goals, 3 of which you`d normally expect a keeper of his calibre to deal with comfortably, one was an absolute howler and worryingly, he looked `stiff`.

Surprisingly, amongst strong speculation otherwise, Kirkland kept his place for the next game, Chelsea at the DW, this time he let 6 go past him and he was heavily criticised by Dave Whelan for his form at the start of the season who said that Kirkie had had 'a stinker`

The next game was a Carling Cup tie away at Hartlepool, this match gave Martinez the opportunity to change things around and he gave Al-Habsi his first competitive start for the Latics, the Omani didn`t disappoint keeping a clean sheet but more importantly looking agile and confident.

Al-Habsi kept his place for the Premier League game at White Hart Lane against Spurs and performed heroics as Latics ran out 1-0 winners against the Champions League qualifiers. Two saves were simply world class as the 28 year old looked determined to keep his record of never having conceded a goal in his time at the Latics.

For the Spurs game Kirkland didn`t travel, the club citing a slight injury as the problem, a massive dip in form more likely the real reason, but now it appears that he has been impressing the boss in training this past fortnight and pushing for a recall.

So Martinez has a dilemma, does he bring back his number 1 who undoubtedly has been a great keeper or should he stick with the man in form, Martinez says: "In life and in football you earn respect, and Chris has done that over the last few years,"


' Al Habsi gets my vote for another crack. It wasn't just his performance it was the general way in which we defended'
Sprayzen
HAVE YOUR SAY

"He has been a massive, massive part of this football club, and he will continue to do that.

"Players have good moments and bad moments in form, and it`s up to them to turn it round.

"I`m just lucky that we have two outstanding goalkeepers fighting to be number one, and a lot of cover in that position as well."


For me this is a no brainer, Al-Habsi has to keep his place, Kirkland has looked dreadful, unfit, no confidence, no agility, no thanks.



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The Journalist

Writer: worbo Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday September 10 2010

Time: 12:17PM

Your Comments

Got to keep with Al-Habsi until injury, suspension or dip in form say otherwise
worbo
Could be the wake up call Kirky needed, it will be a shame if he ends his career with us on these type of terms as our backup keeper though
sprayzen
Al Habsi, don't change against Blunderduds.
wigginer
Al Habsi, don't change against Blunderduds.
wigginer
guys it will be a shame if krikland starts ali al-habsi has been outstanding and it will be a bummer for him to be the second keeper after the 2 super games he played and keeping his goal clean!
wigan-habsi12
there is no dilemma here,it has to be al habsi
johnney handsome
 

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