Wigan boss Martinez hails Cleverley versatility

The 39-year-old Latics coach has been impressed with the development of the Manchester United midfielder, who recently spent a year on loan at the DW Stadium
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has expressed his admiration for Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley, hailing the youngster's versatility.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a season-long loan spell with the Latics during the 2010-11 campaign, making 25 league appearances under Martinez's guidance.

And the Spaniard has described Cleverley as a "special" player, citing his ability to fill a number of positions as one of his best qualities.

"He can play in many positions and he is happy to be in one-v-one situations offensively and defensively, that's where he's got real variation," Martinez told reporters.

"Sometimes it can be a negative to be able to play in a number of positions. Some players are a jack of all trades but not special in any of them.

"Tom is special in what he does, while understanding other roles within the team just as well.

"But if you were to ask him what is his best position, I would say central midfield. And I think Manchester United always saw him as that – even while he was here."

Cleverley made his first competitive England start during last week's 5-0 win over Moldova and was again chosen to feature in the 1-1 draw with Ukraine.

And, despite the Basingstoke-born midfielder receiving criticism for his performance in the latter game, Martinez insists he has excelled upon his return from a lengthy injury lay-off last term.

"His level of performance and maturity has been incredible since his injury," he added.

"And to be able to represent England and Manchester United in such a central area is an impressive achievement.

"I have said it before, when he was with us, that his tactical ability is not normal for a player of his age in this country.

"He is someone who could easily fit into the Dutch or Spanish way of playing quite easily, such is his technical ability and awareness."