Martinez backs Liverpool

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LONDON, December 15- Jamie Carragher may be counting on the power of prayer but Wigan boss Roberto Martinez believes it is the quality of Liverpool's players which will ensure the club finishes the season in the Premier League's top four.FERNANDO_TORRES_The stuttering Reds entertain Martinez’s side at Anfield on Wednesday having won just three of their last 15 games, with one of those successes coming in the Champions League against Debrecen.

Liverpool’s latest disappointment came when they turned a 1-0 half-time lead into a 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, a result which left them five points adrift of the top four, which is the minimum target for under-pressure manager Rafael Benitez.

Their next three games are must-win matches if they are to cut that deficit, with a trip to bottom club Portsmouth and a home match against struggling Wolves following the Wigan fixture.

Carragher said it is imperative that Liverpool’s improvement begins immediately.

"Wigan is a massive game for us," said the defender. "I’ve tried too many times down the years trying to work things out, so there’s no point looking further ahead than that.

"We’ll just try and get three points on Wednesday and then move on to Portsmouth. We’ve got to look at ourselves and realise that we’ve got to do much better.

"For the quality of the players and the stature of the club, we should be doing better. Statistics can change quickly and we have got to do that.

"It’s tough at the moment but part of playing for Liverpool is having big character. That’s what we need now.

"Between now and May it is going to be a grind at times but we have got to stick together, get through it and, as I’m doing every night, pray to God that at the end of the season there will be something worthwhile for what we’ve gone through, because it has been tough.

"I pray to God we win the FA Cup or the Europa League and we get in the top four, dust ourselves down at the end of the season and say ‘It hasn’t been so bad in the end’, but at this moment it is tough."

Alberto Aquilani could make his first Premier League start in a game which is attracting as much attention in Spain as it is in England.

Former Swansea boss Martinez has endured a mixed start to his career as a Premier League manager, the trauma of an embarrassing 9-1 reverse at Tottenham offset by a 3-1 victory over leaders Chelsea and an eye-catching 2-0 victory at Aston Villa.

The Spaniard is desperate to inflict further misery on fellow countryman Benitez although Martinez is convinced that Liverpool will secure a top four finish and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

"Look at their players, They have huge experience," said Martinez, whose side sit 14th in the table.

"You are not talking about young players or a young team. You are talking about Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher.

"It is probably the most experienced group of players in world football. What is happening at the moment will not affect them. I still feel Liverpool will finish in the top four."

Defender Emmerson Boyce suffered a head injury while scoring in a 2-2 draw at Stoke on Saturday but is expected to feature for Wigan, who have won once in six outings.

Hendry Thomas, the Honduras international midfielder, is also available after suspension.

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