Only the brightest of optimists could expect a second string Wigan Athletic team to go to Goodison Park tomorrow and get a good result. The Wigan team will be largely composed of players who have spent most of their time on the bench or on the treatment table in recent months. In contrast Everton are likely to put out a strong lineup.
Everton are a formidable team at Goodison, where they have lost only one of 14 league games this year. It is going to be a tall order for Wigan, but who knows what might happen?
There are players in the Wigan squad who will be anxious to impress in this game, none more so than ex-Everton youth player, Callum McManaman. The 21 year old forward has excelled in cup matches this year and has been unlucky not to have appeared more in the Premier League. He will be joined up front by either Angelo Henqriquez or Nouha Dicko, although Ryo Miyaichi is fit again and will probably appear at some stage during the game. Jordi Gomez will be charged with the creative role for the strikers.
Fraser Fyvie, a 19 year old with more than 50 senior games prior experience under his belt for Aberdeen, is another who has waited patiently for his chance. He is likely to lineup in the centre of midfield alongside the committed American/Honduran, Roger Espinoza, who continues to adapt to the pace of English football.
Roman Golobart, at 20 years of age, is another fine prospect. He made his debut in the starting lineup in the Premier League game against Stoke in January. His extra height in the centre of defence will be useful against an Everton side which always poses a strong aerial threat. He will almost certainly be joined by Antolin Alcaraz, back from long term injury. Adrian Lopez is also back to fitness and will probably take up Gary Caldwell’s position in the centre of defence.
Ronnie Stam will take the right wing back position, but Martinez might have to throw in Maynor Figueroa or Jean Beausejour on the left. With David Jones and Jordan Mustoe out on loan he lacks alternatives in that position. Young Spanish goalkeeper, Joel Robles, faces an acid test where he will have the chance to show that he can compete with Ali Al Habsi for the first team spot.
Likely starting lineup: Robles – Alcaraz, Lopez, Golobart – Stam, Fyvie, Espinoza, Figueroa or Beausejour – Gomez, McManaman, Henriquez or Dicko.
However, in previous rounds Martinez has surprised us by including a smattering of first choice players. At this stage of the season he is less likely to do so. If he were to choose between the FA Cup and Premier League survival, the latter would be his most likely option.
A second string Wigan Athletic is still strong enough to give Everton a run for their money – they have nothing to lose!