It is crunch time for Roberto Martinez and Wigan Athletic when they travel to Aston Villa on Saturday.Wigan sit in 18th spot on the English Premier League table, just goal difference behind a Blackpool side that has upcoming fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester United.
But Martinez would know they cannot rely on other results to go their way to ensure them of their Premier League status, and facing an unpredictable Villa could be just the tonic for Wigan to take some points and jump ahead of Ian Holloway’s men on the table.
The bad news for Wigan fans is that Villans Richard Dunne and Emile Heskey have returned to fitness ahead of Saturday’s clash, and with Gerard Houllier’s side just six points above the drop themselves with three games remaining, they will be keen to assure their own top-flight spot in front of their home fans.
Cameroon midfielder Jean Makoun could also appear on the Villa substitute bench after overcoming a dead leg which kept him out of their loss to 10-man West Bromwich Albion on the weekend.
Villa have also lost only four of 17 clashes at home this season, but their form has wavered recently, with just two wins from their past seven matches, which included losses to local rivals Wolverhampton and Albion.
Wigan have been proficient in front of goal, netting six in three games but shipping the same amount across those fixtures against Blackpool, Sunderland and Everton.
Charles N’Zogbia and Mohamed Diame are both in doubt for the Latics after being substituted off after picking up knocks in Wigan’s 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday.