TOM CLEVERLEY could have played his last game for Latics after cracking a rib in Saturday’s goalless draw at Everton.
The on-loan Manchester United man suffered the problem in the first half and did not come out for the second period, Ronnie Stam taking over in the midfield.
Cleverley will be assessed and scanned this week but, with rumours that his parent club intend to recall him during January, he may have pulled on a Wigan shirt for the final time.
The news is a blow for Latics and Cleverley, who had just started to find the sort of form that has seen him earmarked for a bright future and saw Roberto Martinez tip him for an England senior call-up.
Prior to Saturday, the England U21 international had bagged two goals in his last two outings, and was linking up well with the likes of Charles N’Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega.
Martinez said: “We fear Tom has cracked his rib, which would be a real problem for us all.”
The Spaniard will be hoping the initial diagnosis proves to be inaccurate, as he already has serious selection problems ahead of next weekend’s crunch clash at home to Aston Villa.
In addition to a lengthy and well-documented injury list, Hendry Thomas and Maynor Figueroa will both miss the match after picking up their fifth bookings of the season at Goodison Park.
Fortunately, Emmerson Boyce should be fit enough to take over from Steve Gohouri at right-back, with the Ivorian set to switch flanks to fill in for Figueroa.
Thomas’ absence opens the door for James McArthur to make a first start in the Premier League, the Scot earning his opportunity with some fine form of late both off the bench and in the Carling Cup.
Meanwhile, Martinez has received a rare piece of positive news regarding Franco di Santo’s mystery ankle complaint. The Argentine travelled to London last week to see a specialist after being dogged by pain and discomfort since the 2-2 draw at Newcastle in mid-October.
With a possible lay-off of up to three months, the Wigan boss was relieved to discover the damage was not serious.
“We’ve had some great news, in that the ligament isn’t damaged,” Martinez said. “Well keep an eye on him over the next week or so, but we’re hoping he is fine - which would be a massive relief.
“When you look at the players we have been without in recent weeks, and the ones we’ll be without next week as well, we need big players like Franco available for selection.
“Hopefully he’ll react well to treatment. If so, we’re looking at two weeks maximum, probably nearer seven days.”