As James McCarthy and Gary Caldwell reach the lofty heights of 100 league appearances each for Wigan Athletic, boss Roberto Martinez lavished praise on the ‘vital’ British players.
Midfielder McCarthy reached the milestone against Fulham last weekend and will be joined by skipper Gary Caldwell as he lines up in defence against Sunderland on Saturday.
And while they are invaluable on the field, Martinez believes their attitude off it also sets them apart from other players.
“They have been vital and pivotal with everything that we’ve tried to do over the last few seasons,” he told the club website.
“It’s not just what they do on the pitch, I think it’s clear that their role off the pitch as well – they create a real British core to the dressing room that gives direction to the foreign players.
“That’s something that they deserve huge credit for because we’ve been really successful over the years and to be able to achieve our aim year after year is down to the work of individuals.”
McCarthy, 22, joined the Latics in 2009 for £1.2million after notching up more than a 100 games for Hamilton Academical and made his Republic of Ireland debut in March 2011.
Eight years his senior, Scottish Premier League winner Caldwell moved from Celtic in 2010 and has more than 50 international caps to his name.
Both have been crucial players in Wigan’s Premier League campaign this year – with McCarthy featuring in all 22 games and Caldwell only five behind.
Martinez praised the player’s individual talents and added such key players are at the heart of the club’s development.
“Gary Caldwell is in the peak of his career and the best years of his football,” he said.
“James McCarthy is a young man that is developing and since he arrived as a youngster I would say that now he is starting to develop into one of the best central-midfielders in European football.
“I think the experiences [at the club] have been tremendous for the players but as a football club we have taken advantage of that and we building something really powerful and a strong structure for the future.
“That’s where the relationship is so, so successful and we want these players to carry on performing and enjoying their football with this football club.”