RM tips McManaman for England

  • Last Updated: March 28 2013, 17:02 GMT

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes under-fire forward Callum McManaman can be a future England international.

Callum McManaman (r): Lauded a s a phenomenal talent
Callum McManaman (r): Lauded a s a phenomenal talent

The striker has been widely condemned for his knee-high tackle on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara in Wigan's 2-1 Premier League victory two weeks ago.

Referee Mark Halsey missed the challenge and McManaman was not punished retrospectively because one of the officials had seen the incident.

Newcastle were furious, with assistant boss John Carver confronting McManaman at half-time, and a teenager was arrested for malicious messages sent to the 21-year-old on Twitter.

McManaman may miss Saturday's clash with Norwich because of an ankle injury but, when he does next take to the pitch, he is likely to find himself a target for opposing fans.

Martinez, though, expects the striker's talent to be the talking point soon enough, and has tipped him for England honours.

The Spaniard said: "Very soon people will realise what he is all about and what a phenomenal talent he has. There's been a lot of talk about developing young players and young English players with real raw talent, and he's got that.

"I think people will want to find out a bit more. I don't think you make a judgement on a player by a three-second highlight that you see on the TV.

"I think it's been very unfortunate that people speak about that moment rather than the one-on-one situation where he created the first goal.

"It's one of those situations where people will start wanting to know more about him and they will find out that maybe in future years he can bring something to the national team. That's how exciting Callum can be for the future."

McManaman, who has played for England at under-20 level, has enjoyed a breakthrough season, making 20 appearances for Wigan and scoring in the 3-0 FA Cup quarter-final win against Everton.

The Newcastle game was his first start in the Premier League and he appeared visibly upset when he was substituted during the second half.

Martinez was worried about how McManaman would cope with the furore around him but is now confident he will not be adversely affected.

The Wigan boss said: "I did have concerns straightaway. Anyone would. All of a sudden you are the centre of a nationwide debate where you've done nothing wrong in terms of your intent. You've found yourself in that position.

"But Callum has been growing into the footballer he is now for the last four years so he hasn't been someone who all of a sudden appears.

"He's had a very good development at the club. He's been out on loan and I think he's had enough experiences to know how to cope with anything the Premier League is going to throw at him.

"But I did fear at the beginning because he's a young man. All he's doing is trying to keep his place, trying to enjoy his football, and, as a young Englishman who has an incredible future, I thought it was a bit too strong to swallow.

"But, looking at the way he's reacted in training, he's a joy of a human being and I know he'll become a stronger person after that."


Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week