How do you solve a problem like Nick...
Paul Cook has revealed Wigan Athletic's '˜X factor' star Nick Powell has been sent to Everton's state-of-the-art training facility in a bid to get to the bottom of the niggling injury problems that have plagued his career.
Powell returned to Latics, with whom he spent a season on loan in 2013/14, in a blaze of publicity last summer after being freed by Manchester United.
But a succession of injury setbacks restricted him to just 22 appearances as Latics were relegated back to League One.
Fans were given a tantalising glimpse of what might have been in the last month of the campaign, when Powell scored five goals in just three matches to briefly raise hopes of a ‘Great Escape’.
But Cook is determined to get the bottom of Powell’s perennial problems, and work out a way of getting him on the field more often.
“Nick’s got a history of injuries, hasn’t he?” Cook told the Observer,
“We’re just ticking them off, one at a time.
“He’s had bits of problems already this summer, which we’ve had treatment to clear up.
“He’s has a couple of injections in his back, he’s had one or two other things as well.
“At the minute he’s looking great.
“He’s been getting his hamstrings tested down at Everton, who have a very good machine at Finch Farm, and we’re lucky enough that they’ve allowed us to use it.
“I think once Nick comes through that, we’ll be looking at him being in a really good position where he’ll be able to train every day, and hopefully fit for selection every week.
“If we can get to that point, I’m sure our supporters will be in agreement, we’ll reap the benefits of that.”
Having been signed by then-United boss Sir Alex Ferguson for £6million from Crewe in 2012, the world appeared to be at Powell’s feet.
However, he made only three substitute appearances in the Premier League during his four years at Old Trafford, scoring only one goal – ironically against Latics.
He clearly has the ability to be a stand-out player in the third tier, but Cook insists that means nothing on paper.
“If he’s not fit, then he’s not one of the best players in the league, is he?” Cook retorted.
“That’s the argument, and sometimes I’d like to slow down Nick’s pathway, to be able to accelerate.
“Listen, you can understand why every previous manager has wanted to get Nick out there on the pitch.
“It’s quite logical to want to do that, based on what he can do for a team.
“But we’re at a point now where we have a strong squad, with other players we can look to, and hopefully get Nick into a position where when he does join us, he’ll be fully fit.
“And I’m sure every Wigan fan will agree that’s a day we’re all looking forward to.”