Bradley Johnson is booked by referee Lee Probert following a clash with Wigan's James McCarthy. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez blasts Norwich City’s Bradley Johnson over James McCarthy injury

Monday, December 17, 2012
1.13 PM

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was highly critical of Bradley Johnson’s role in the injury exit of his influential midfielder James McCarthy. The Republic of Ireland international could now miss the first part of Wigan’s festive programme with ankle ligament damage after a heavy challenge that earned the City man a yellow card.

“It was a disappointing moment. Believe me, it was a nasty challenge, it was a challenge or an incident off the ball,” said Martinez.

“James McCarthy picked up a very nasty injury on his ankle. The referee saw it and he gave him a yellow card. There is not much else he could have done but it was one of those actions you don’t want to see.

“We all know James McCarthy, he is in a great moment of form, he scored two goals in the previous game and they took him out of the game and that was very, very disappointing. It is the ankle ligament – the external ligament – we will X-ray it in the next 24 hours and find out. We’ll get the results from the scan very shortly but I doubt if he’s available for the next 10 days. I doubt it very much.”

Adrian Lopez also finished the match on a stretcher with a suspected hamstring injury, but Martinez insists it is too easy to attribute Wigan’s recent downturn solely to a lengthening list of absentees.

“You need to cope with injuries and you need to cope with suspensions,” he said. “At the moment we have four centre-halves, probably our most senior centre-halves, out injured and today it showed.

“The two goals we conceded were soft and that is disappointing. The reason, clearly, is the amount of players we’ve got missing and it’s not an excuse.

“When you’ve got one or two players missing it can become an excuse, you’ve got a larger squad, but when you’ve got six players plus the two injuries we picked up today you’re talking about facing games at this level with eight players missing.

“It becomes tough for the players, but we can’t perform in the manner we did in the first half, feeling sorry for ourselves and looking like a team without real desire and I’m glad the second half was the opposite of that. It will set us up nicely for the next game against Arsenal at home.”

Martinez was upset by the manner of his side’s first half capitulation at Carrow Road.

The Spaniard felt the Latics’ gifted Norwich the win that kept his strugglers mired in the Premier League relegation zone after a fifth league defeat in seven.

“It looked in the first half like we were feeling sorry about ourselves because we had six injuries and they are senior, important players in the squad and we played with that fear – we need to be brave, we need to be arrogant on the ball and I think we showed that in the second half, but not in the first,” he said.

“I do feel that our first-half performance wasn’t good enough or anywhere near an acceptable level. We had Ali Al Habsi, our goalkeeper, to thank just to keep us in the game.

“It was two very different faces from our performance. I thought in the first half we weren’t anywhere near our level. Our start was sluggish, pedestrian, we never got to grips with what we had to do in the game. We were very, very poor.”

Martinez made a double substitution at the interval, which paid almost immediate dividends, when Shaun Maloney rifled the visitors back on level terms before Wes Hoolahan’s headed winner just beyond the hour mark.

“Our disappointment is that the smallest man on the pitch gets a free header in the six-yard box and it’s very difficult to win football games when you concede goals as soft as we did today,” said Martinez.

“But on the balance of the game I would say that on our second-half performance, we merited something out of the game. But it was a self-inflicted defeat. In football what matters is the reaction and how you accept the responsibility for your performance and I think we did that as a team in the second half.

“In the worst possible moment, I think it would have been all too easy for Norwich to get on the ball and dominate the game – and it was far from that.

“They couldn’t do that, they found it very, very difficult and I thought the reaction in the second half showed the character we’ve got in our dressing room and we stopped feeling sorry (for ourselves).”