Tuesday 20 March 2018

McCarthy a doubt for Brazil friendly

John Curtis



Wigan manager Roberto Martinez felt his side were denied a point by a controversial penalty award as they went down 1-0 at Birmingham to remain deep in relegation trouble.

Referee Anthony Taylor adjudged that Wigan skipper Mario Melchiot -- a former City player -- had brought down Keith Fahey in first-half injury time. But replays showed there had been no contact on the Birmingham winger but James McFadden scored the resulting penalty to settle the issue.

To make matters worse for the Latics, James McCarthy suffered an ankle injury in a reckless challenge from Liam Ridgewell and now looks set to have to pull out of the Republic of Ireland's friendly international with Brazil in midweek.

"For the penalty, I don't think there was any contact and, if there was any contact, it was certainly not enough for it to be a penalty," said Martinez about the crucial decision to award a spot-kick. "It is quite clear. The referee was only five yards away but at the moment we are not getting the luck with decisions. Our player is trying to clear the ball and their player, I would say, should have been given a yellow card."

Martinez felt his side deserved something from the game. "The first half was a poor game in terms of quality and our performance was not good enough," he conceded. "In the second half, we were more like ourselves in terms of determination and posing a threat. We deserved something from the game."

By contrast, Birmingham have now reached the 40-point mark for the season and assured themselves of top flight football for a second successive campaign, a state of affairs which surprises even boss Alex McLeish. "If you had said at the start of the season that we would get 40 points by March, I would have said you are having a laugh because the squad needed time to gel and develop and we had lads coming in from the Championship," he said after the victory.

"To get to 40 points before March is an outstanding feat from a squad that cost £10m in the summer to assemble," added former Rangers boss McLeish. "That is amazing and it is even more amazing that we are in eighth position but we now want to kick on and the characters in the dressing room will ensure we don't ease up."

Sunday Independent

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