Nick Powell’s frustrating campaign could well be over after the Wigan Athletic forward aggravated a long-standing hamstring problem at the weekend.
The 22-year-old, the club’s marquee summer signing from Manchester United, has struggled to find any kind of form during his second spell at the DW Stadium.
I believe he’ll be struggling to play again this seasonWarren Joyce
His start against Nottingham Forest on Saturday was only his second on the spin after six weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring problem that flared up at Barnsley in mid-November.
But he lasted just eight minutes into the FA Cup third-round tie before pulling up lame, leaving the field in clear discomfort and anguish.
And boss Warren Joyce admits he fears the worst as he waits to discover the full extent of the problem.
“It’s bitterly disappointing for the player, first and foremost,” Joyce told the Evening Post.
“I believe he’ll be struggling to play again this season.
“And that’s another season, another disappointing year, for Nick.”
Powell has been plagued by injury and fitness issues since leaving hometown club Crewe for Old Trafford in 2012 for £6million.
Indeed, the loan spell he spent at the DW in the 2013/14 campaign was the closest he’s come to recapturing anything like his best form, when he raced to 10 goals by mid-January before losing his form and focus in the run-in.
A brilliant goal on his second ‘debut’ for Latics against Blackburn back in August proved to be a false dawn, with Powell completing 90 minutes only four times in his 16 outings this term.
Only last month, Joyce – Powell’s former coach at Old Trafford – challenged the player to fulfil his potential or risk looking back with huge regret on his ‘wasted’ potential.
But an inability to achieve full fitness for any length of time continues to prove his Achilles heel.
“Nick’s had that throughout his career, and it’s another hard one to come back from,” added the Latics boss.
“All he can do is not feel sorry for himself, and try and come back stronger and fitter.
“He’s done it before – when he’s tried to come back stronger and fitter – and that’s all he can do.
“It’s a lonely time for him, and you do feel desperately sorry for him.
“But there’s a lot of people in life who have desperate things happen to them.
“He’s young, he’s got time, and he just has to get his head down and work hard.”