Martinez tells squad to focus in Carroll's absence

If the Wigan Athletic manager is relieved at not having to face Andy Carroll, he is not letting his players know about it.

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If Roberto Martinez, the Wigan Athletic manager, is relieved at not having to face Andy Carroll, Newcastle United's formidable centre-forward, he is not letting his players know about it.

Carroll, one of the players of the season so far, has been ruled out of today's game at the DW Stadium with a thigh injury.

Having scored 11 goals, including the winner at Arsenal, and earned his first international cap for England in the first months of the season, Carroll's absence should ease Wigan's task.

They are looking to maintain a four-game unbeaten run and pull away from the relegation zone.

But Martinez warned his players that whoever replaces Carroll will be just as big a threat.

"If they play with 10 men it would be fantastic news but if Carroll is not playing there is Shola Ameobi or [Nile] Ranger, there are many replacements in that squad," Martinez said.

"Sometimes I think players have got a point to prove and want an opportunity become an even more important player for the team.

"They are a really strong side, I have seen them play a few times.

"Obviously Carroll has made the biggest impact in the Premier League from the Newcastle squad but they have got a perfect combination of experience and talented young players."

Newcastle are looking for their second win since Alan Pardew succeeded the controversially sacked Chris Hughton early last month.

Pardew oversaw an impressive victory over Liverpool in his first game in charge but his side have since been beaten by Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

Pardew knows his side need to find form in 2011. "The most important part of any Premier League season is the second half, when teams improve and get stronger," he said. "It's that that we really have to focus on."

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