Martinez hails Espinoza effect

  • Last Updated: January 30 2013, 17:44 GMT

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez felt January signing Roger Espinoza was "a joy to watch" on his full league debut in Wednesday's 2-2 draw at Stoke.

Roger Espinoza: Earned praise from his manager Martinez
Roger Espinoza: Earned praise from his manager Martinez

Espinoza, recruited a few weeks ago from Major League Soccer outfit Sporting Kansas City, put in an eye-catching performance in midfield having kept his place in the Latics first XI from Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round victory at Macclesfield.

The Honduras international had looked set for a disappointing evening after giving away the free-kick which led to Stoke opening the scoring through Ryan Shawcross in the 23rd minute, and then losing possession in the 48th to instigate a Potters break which ended with Peter Crouch making it 2-0.

Espinoza had also picked up a yellow card by that point, but from thereon his contribution was key to Wigan's fightback, with the 26-year-old first setting up a tidy finish by James McArthur in the 50th minute with a through-ball.

He then crossed in the 61st minute for the same player, whose header teed up Franco Di Santo's volleyed equaliser.

Latics manager Roberto Martinez admitted Espinoza - who prior to the Macclesfield game had also played as a substitute in Wigan's league defeat to Sunderland, four days after making his bow by starting the FA Cup third-round win at Bournemouth - had taken a while to find his feet, but was delighted with his overall display.

"It took probably 15 to 20 minutes for him to get the tempo of the game and then he grew in confidence and was a joy to watch," Martinez said.

"I think the understanding with the other two midfielders and the manner in which he coped with the 90 minutes was very pleasing.

"I think he has an incredible tactical awareness from playing with Kansas City, where I think the coaching staff did a magnificent job.

"He can play in any of the three positions in midfield and as a wing-back as well. He is a real example of the type of player we like at our football club."

The point Wigan salvaged saw them move out of the relegation zone, jumping from 19th to 17th, where they are ahead of 18th-placed Aston Villa on goal difference alone.

Having already captured Espinoza and tied up loan deals for Manchester United striker Angelo Henriquez and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Joel Robles this month, Martinez hopes to bring in Hamburg's Latics old boy Paul Scharner before the transfer deadline to further boost the battle for survival.

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