ANTOLIN Alcaraz is willing to play through the pain barrier for Wigan Athletic against Chelsea on Saturday.
The defensive rock was forced to quit at the three-quarter mark of last weekend’s victory at West Brom in some discomfort after sustaining a suspected fractured rib.
Alcaraz was having trouble breathing as he left the pitch, such was the pain, and the immediate prognosis was that he’d be out until the New Year.
However, initial scans have suggested that the injury is not as bad as first feared and, although there’s plenty of bruising, there may not be a break.
Alcaraz will be scanned again later in the week when some of the swelling has subsided, but he’s already resumed light training at Christopher Park.
And boss Roberto Martinez says he’ll be given every chance to prove his fitness for the visit of Andre Villas-Boas’ high-flyers.
“With the nature of the injury, it’s been very difficult to get a definitive assessment,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“Having said that, the early scans we’ve had back are very positive, which is great news for everyone.
“It’s probably a bit early to be going one way or the other with regards to the weekend, but the 48-hour scan is usually indicative of the type of injury you’re dealing with. We’ll know more in the next 24 hours or so, but Antolin himself feels very strong, very well and wants to play.
“We’re just seeing how he settles back in to work and reacts to exercising, but he’ll be scanned again once the swelling has gone down to check there’s no structural damage.
“We really weren’t too positive after the game on Saturday but, if I were a betting man, I would be inclined to suggest there’s a 51 per cent chance he’ll be fine rather than not.”
Alcaraz is understandably desperate to play, having endured a stop-start campaign to date.
After missing the start of the campaign because of a disrupted pre-season due to the Copa America, a calf problem picked up on his seasonal bow at Swansea ruled him out for almost three months.
Almost as soon as he’d recovered, an untimely spat with Wolves’ Richard Stearman at the beginning of November led to a three-match ban, from which he was returning when he suffered this latest setback.
“You do get seasons like this one sometimes, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” sympathised Martinez.
“For whatever reason, you don’t get the stability, you don’t get the continuity, and that affects the whole team.
“Hopefully this can act as the turning point, though, and we can enjoy Antolin playing out the rest of the season with no distractions.
“His suspension is over, he looks refreshed after his international commitments over the summer and he is ready to go on a real run in the side.
“His season starts now.”
Wigan’s reserve-team clash at home to Sunderland, postponed yesterday due to the weather, has been rearranged for Wednesday, February 1, 2012.
Tickets for the FA Cup third-round trip to Swindon at the beginning of next month went on sale to corporate season-tickets holders this morning, with season-ticket holders getting their chance tomorrow and the general public next Monday.