FRANCISCO Junior could have played his last game for Wigan Athletic after scans revealed he has a hernia problem.
The 23-year-old has spent the first half of the season on loan from Premier League outfit Everton.
However, he returned to Goodison Park just before Christmas for treatment and scans after playing through the pain barrier for several weeks.
Latics boss Gary Caldwell had harboured hopes of extending Junior’s loan – which was due to expire in the middle of this month – if the injury news wasn’t serious.
But the pessimistic prognosis could force Caldwell to look elsewhere during the January transfer window.
“He’s still back at Everton, he’s got a hernia-type injury,” revealed the Wigan chief.
“That’s going to keep him out...I can’t see anything getting done for the foreseeable future with him.”
Junior has made 12 appearances for Latics, scoring one goal – the stoppage-time winner against Swindon on Halloween.
Caldwell also no reported no firm progress regarding his attempts to keep hold of fellow loan star Yanic Wildschut.
The flying Dutchman’s three-month loan expired after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Scunthorpe, and he has returned to Championship high-flyers Middlesbrough.
And Caldwell is in no doubts as to the stumbling block Latics have encountered.
“Money is always the stumbling block, isn’t it?” he smiled. “I don’t know what’s happening with that – and that’s the genuine answer.
“I’ve said many times that we’d like to keep Yanic. We’ve helped his career - which I don’t think was going anywhere at Middlesbrough.
“We want him back, and he wants to come back. But you also have to be proactive.
“You can’t just go for one target, you have to be covered all bases and be ready for whatever happens.”
Latics have already agreed a deal for Torquay’s talented young goalkeeper Dan Lavercombe, who will stay with the Gulls for the rest of the season before moving north.
They have also been linked with Oldham midfielder Liam Kelly, but Caldwlel was keeping his cards close to his chest.
“I have got a shopping list, and it’s something we’re constantly looking at,” he added.
“We always out at games, looking to see whether there’s players who can make us better.
“We’ve identified good players who we think would improve our squad and our team, to help us push for promotion.”