Martinez pleased for Di Santo

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes Franco di Santo will reap the benefits of being in the Argentina squad.

Last Updated: 14/11/12 at 07:53 Post Comment

Franco di Santo: Surprise Argentina call-up

Franco di Santo: Surprise Argentina call-up

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes Franco di Santo will reap the benefits of rubbing shoulders with Argentina's star-studded forward line.

The 23-year-old striker's impressive start to the season resulted in a surprise first call-up from his country a fortnight ago and he could make his international debut in Wednesday's friendly against Saudi Arabia at the King Fahd International Stadium.

It is all a far cry from the scoring droughts that have plagued the former Chelsea youngster in English football.

Having netted one goal during a 24-game loan spell with Blackburn in 2009/10, a solitary strike in 29 appearances followed for Di Santo after his move to Wigan that summer.

His scoring rate has picked up since but he is still far from prolific.

Now a virtually guaranteed starter as Latics' attacking lynchpin, Di Santo finds himself vying for the attentions of national coach Alejandro Sabella alongside Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero in a squad that the latter's Manchester City team-mate Carlos Tevez was once again excluded from.

"Franco di Santo is developing into a top footballer," said Martinez. "He's only 23 but he's come on a lot. Obviously being called up by Argentina and playing with the likes of Messi and Sergio Aguero is going to do him a lot of good.

"But we still know that he needs to carry on enjoying his football."

Although Martinez has complete faith in Di Santo's ability to perform effectively at the highest level, he admits to being both surprised and flattered that Sabella should look to the DW Stadium for attacking reinforcements.

"I could see it coming because I work with him every day," he said. "You get a bit biased because you know the player.

"I was a little bit surprised with the knowledge the national team coach Alejandro Sabella has shown because, to know a striker at Wigan Athletic, it shows you that they are incredibly professional in the way they follow their players.

"They've got strikers at Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona and to have a striker from Wigan Athletic with the options they've got... they've got strikers at top clubs around Europe.

"It's a real compliment to Wigan. The way we play probably attracts the interests of national team managers.

"We didn't do before and that's a real compliment. Franco deserves huge, huge credit for the achievement."

Although six goals so far in 2012 hardly compares with the record-breaking exploits of his most illustrious new international team-mate, Martinez is delighted with Di Santo's development and believes he has plenty more to offer.

"He can get a lot better," he added. "That's the natural development of a young player. We always believed in Franco - we paid big money for our limitations financially.

"We're just so glad that he's been able to develop into the player that he is today.

"We hope that he can enjoy the experience and come back to help us."


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