ROBERTO Martinez faces a central defensive crisis ahead of tomorrow’s crunch clash with fellow strugglers Aston Villa.
Skipper Gary Caldwell will miss the game through suspension as a result of his red card in the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday.
But Latics have also been rocked with news stand-in skipper Antolin Alcaraz is expected to be out for up to a fortnight with a mystery soft tissue injury.
Martinez told the Evening Post: “Antolin is suffering a little bit with the intensity of the Premier League, and the lack of rest and recuperation he had last summer with the World Cup commitments that he had.
“The problem is not something he’s felt in a game, it was actually discovered after the game last week, and we found he had not one but a couple of tears.
“These kind of things can happen when the body isn’t allowed to recover properly.
“It’s not too serious, but we need to make sure we refresh him mentally and physically.
“I don’t think he’ll be available to play tomorrow – in fact, you’re probably talking about a couple of weeks.
“But the most important thing is to get him back for the last third of the campaign.”
Steven Caldwell and Steve Gohouri finished the Arsenal game at centre-back, and they are expected to resume their fledgling partnership for the visit of Villa, although Martinez also has fit-again Emmerson Boyce at his disposal as well as new-boy Adrian Lopez.
One man certain to be in the starting line-up is Ali Al Habsi, who produced a superb display at The Emirates, despite being beaten three times by Robin van Persie.