ANTOLIN Alcaraz faces a race against time to be fit for the start of pre-season training.
The Paraguayan centre-back missed the season-ending victory over Wolves with a thigh problem sustained in training on the eve of the game.
It was an anti-climactic end to the campaign for Alcaraz, whose winning goal at Blackburn the previous weekend had secured Wigan’s top-flight status.
Scans have revealed the problem is worse than first feared, and would have ruled the centre-back out for up to six weeks had it occurred during the season.
But Roberto Martinez is remaining upbeat about Alcaraz’s chances of returning for pre-season training with the rest of the squad.
“We are all very concerned about Antolin because it was a nasty soft-tissue injury he suffered,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“He pulled his left thigh in a simple exercise on the training ground, but the prognosis is that it could be up to six weeks.
“It was so disappointing, because we wanted Antolin out there with the rest of the squad to say thank you to the fans for a great campaign.
“As it happens, he will not now be able to fully enjoy his holidays.
“Instead, he will be in for treatment, recovering in the right way.
“It was a negative way to the end the season, but I’m hoping he’ll be fine for the start of pre-season.
“Knowing the way he is and the way he works, I know he’ll take the best care of himself and he’ll be fit for the first week in July.”
It’ll be the third summer in a row that Alcaraz’s hopes of a solid pre-season have been affected by factors beyond his control.
Two years ago, the 29-year-old starred for his country at the World Cup finals in South Africa, and 12 months ago he helped Paraguay go all the way to the final of the Copa America.
After little or no pre-season under his belt, Alcaraz broke down in the second match of the campaign at Swansea with a pulled thigh muscle that ruled his out for the best part of three months.
This time he’ll be hoping it’s third time lucky - and keeping his fingers crossed he’ll be able to hit the ground running ahead of the new season.