Paul Cook admitted Nick Powell is only just scratching the surface of his potential after scoring two more goals in Wigan Athletic’s 4-1 thrashing of Bury.
The ex-Manchester United man was restored to the Latics starting line-up, after missing Tuesday night’s League Cup win over Blackpool with an injury scare.
But his brace made it three for the season - and eight in his last 329 minutes on the pitch, going back to the end of last term.
The major problem now for Cook and Latics will be keeping him fit - and keeping hold of him beyond the transfer deadline at the end of the month.
In the meantime, Cook knows he has a gem on his hands - with the potential to become even better.
“I think for Nick it’s the fitness levels that he can get to as a player,” admitted the Latics boss.
“Unfortunately for Wigan fans and the club last year, we haven’t seen the best of Nick Powell because of the fitness and the injuries that he’s had.
“At the minute he’s going through that rehabilitation phase and coming off at certain moments in the game.
“I don’t think anyone’s doubted Nick Powell’s quality - I think that’s a given.
“His fitness and being able to play games from week to week would influence any team or manager.
“We’re just delighted to have him.”
Powell was substituted 15 minutes before the end of the convincing win over the Shakers - Wigan’s third win out of three this term.
He spent the rest of the 90 minutes doing stretches in the technical area, and Cook admits it’s a balancing act in terms of not pushing him too hard.
“It’s just a case of Nick staying fit,” added Cook. “The important thing for Nick is keeping fit.
“Once you get Nick Powell as a fit player he’s a massive influence on any team in any game of football.
“The problem is last year he had 11 starts, which is not enough.
“That’s not a criticism of Nick - that’s for us as a football club.
“We want to build teams around certain players, and certainly Nick falls into that category. But he’s got to be fit.
“He’s working away. He’s a very good specimen of a man, very athletic, has natural ability.
“He’s a wonderful lad, good to work with.
“He’s working hard every day, does his gym work now and if he keeps those habits good his fitness should stay okay - touch wood.”