Wigan look set to be without midfielder James McCarthy for their Barclays Premier League opener against newly-promoted Norwich.

The Republic of Ireland international twisted his ankle in last week's pre-season friendly against Villarreal and Latics boss Roberto Martinez has given him only a 10% chance of being involved.

Striker Hugo Rodallega is available after returning late to pre-season training following his involvement with Colombia in the Copa America but defender Antolin Alcaraz, who reached the final with Paraguay, will be given more time to regain full fitness.

After last season's opening-day nightmare, Martinez admitted the last thing he wanted was to face another newly-promoted side.

But that is exactly what the fixtures computer threw up, and, as well as meeting Norwich at the DW Stadium, Wigan will then take on Swansea and QPR in their next two matches.

Latics fans will need no reminding of the first game of last season, when they were hammered 4-0 at home by Blackpool, and Martinez is well aware of the dangers posed by Paul Lambert's newcomers this time.

He said: "I'm really excited and really worried at the same time because we've got a really tough fixture.

"We had the experience last campaign of playing against a newly-promoted side and, if you want to find an example of a winning mentality and winning momentum, no one is better than Norwich.

"What Paul Lambert has achieved, to get back-to-back promotions and the manner in which they play, with real bravery and real freedom, it makes them a very tough team to play at the start of the Premier League.

"We need to be well aware we need to learn the lessons from the past and we need to make sure we're ready to compete. You wouldn't want to play any newly-promoted sides early in the season and we're going to play all three of them.

"When you play certain opposition, there are better moments and worse moments during the campaign. There's nothing worse than playing a newly-promoted side at what is a really exciting time for them.

"They've got bags of energy and enthusiasm and a unique mental approach to the game, which is really hard to match. It's a tough fixture but we need to take responsibility and make sure we use the experience that we've got."

Norwich are hopeful Wales midfielder Andrew Crofts (ankle) and full-back Russell Martin (calf) will be fit.

Striker James Vaughan, signed from Everton, and centre-back Elliott Ward are sidelined after picking up minor knee injuries during pre-season training in Germany.

Anthony Pilkington could be included in the squad as the former Huddersfield winger continues his rehabilitation from a serious ankle injury.

Norwich manager Paul Lambert admits no-one knows what the Canaries will do on their return to the Barclays Premier League - even him.

The Norfolk club were struggling in npower League One just two seasons ago when Lambert took charge.

However, following back-to-back promotions Norwich will run out as members of England's elite for the first time since 2004-05.

Lambert accepts with no previous form, it is very much a step into the "unknown".

"It is new for us and the players, but we have earned the right to play them so we will give it a go," the Norwich manager said.

"It is the unknown we are going into, and it is the same for Wigan - they do not know how we will play.

"We will just have to wait and see, but we have to learn very quickly to adjust.

"There is no turning back now, because we are on it. The prestige is great for everybody connected with the club and we will just have to see how it goes."

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Topics:
#James Vaughan
#Internationals
#Elliott Ward
#Antolin Alcaraz
#Football
#Hugo Rodallega
#Premier League
#Anthony Pilkington
#Russell Martin
#Everton
#Andrew Crofts
#James McCarthy