Martinez tips Torres to bounce back

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has backed his fellow Spaniard Fernando Torres in the wake of strong criticism of the Chelsea striker’s performances this season.The former Liverpool hitman has yet to score for Carlo Ancelotti’s side since joining from Liverpool in January for 50 million pounds, but the Italian boss has retained faith in the Spanish international, hailing him as still ‘one of the best strikers in Europe’.

Torres played the full 90 minutes in the Blues’ home defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday night but the fans are beginning to lose patience as he continues to misfire – with Didier Drogba’s substitution raising eyebrows at Stamford Bridge.

Martinez, however, feels it is only a matter of time before the 27-year-old hits a purple patch, although he will be hoping that won’t occur during the Latics’ visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

“I think it’s quite clear that he’s going to be a fantastic signing for the future as well as the present and I think he’s going to become a bargain for Chelsea,” said the former Swansea boss.

“It’s always difficult to move from one club to another halfway through the season but you can see he’s got real experience in the game and that’s going to be a real asset, especially in the Champions League.”

“But I think Fernando needs to be judged over the course of the four or five seasons he’s going to be at Chelsea, rather than where he is now.”

“He’s still settling in and adapting to a new football club but Fernando is one of the best strikers in European football, and that’s a real asset to have in any squad.”

One of Martinez’s prize assets, Gary Caldwell, is expected to play despite requiring dental surgery following a clash with Roman Pavlyuchenko during their scoreless draw with Tottenham last weekend.

The Wigan manager was critical of the Russian’s part in the incident.

“It’s a shame the referee didn’t see it because it’s the kind of action you don’t want to see on the football pitch,” he said.

Chelsea can leapfrog Manchester City into third place in the Premier League with a win on Saturday, but are likely to be without Yossi Benayoun (Achilles) and Alex (knee), while a win for Wigan would peel them from the league’s bottom spot and bolster their survival hopes.