Roberto Martinez predicts 'hardest fight' yet as Wigan dig in for relegation battle
Roberto Martinez reckons Wigan must win the toughest relegation battle of his reign if they are to stay up.
Last Updated: 02/03/13 5:35pm
The Latics have been ever present in the top division since achieving promotion in 2005, avoiding relegation on the final day two years ago with victory at Stoke.
It took a run of seven wins from their final nine games to secure survival last season, and with 11 games to play this term only goal difference is keeping Martinez's side out of the bottom three.
The Spaniard, who succeeded Steve Bruce in the summer of 2009, said: "We need as many points as we can get.
"We have been in this situation time after time but I do feel the fight we are involved in this season is going to be the hardest out of the last four years.
"Looking at the table now, I do feel there are more teams involved and, with the manner the league is developing, there are certain teams starting to drop their levels.
"Until the last day of the season many teams could get involved in that fight. I do think the level of the bottom 10 teams is very close, I don't think
there are many differences.
"I think it is more open than the table shows at this time. There are 33 points to play for - a huge amount of points. Many things will happen between now and the end of the season."
Wigan's fringe players have taken the club to the last eight of the FA Cup - a run which can only benefit them in the league, according to the manager.
He said: "It will help now. We have been making nine, eight, six changes in the FA Cup but there are two big lessons to get out of it.
"First the youngsters at the club are getting a good education so when they play in the first team they are ready and, second, the FA Cup success has helped us in the confidence and belief we bring into the league."