ALBERT Crusat has been given the injury all-clear – and could even face Swindon Town this weekend.
The Spanish winger had to be helped from the field during the first half of Tuesday’s home defeat to Sunderland in obvious discomfort after a robust collision with Craig Gardner.
There were initial fears that Crusat had sustained some serious damage to either his back or his ribs, although a scan has alleviated such concerns.
And Roberto Martinez confirmed the former Almeria man has not yet been ruled out of this weekend’s FA Cup third-round trip to the County Ground.
“It was a really nasty challenge that Albert took, and we were concerned it was a cracked rib, or some kind of real structural problem with his back,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“But the results from the scan have been very, very good, and we are hoping that with conservative treatment he could even feature on Saturday.
“I would never rule Albert out, because he is a strong character who always wants to play.
“But I have to say I would be surprised if he made it.
“It was a real shame he had to come off against Sunderland, because he was having a massive impact on the game.
“But he will get plenty of opportunities to show what he can do during the second half of the season.”
Martinez has confirmed he will ring the changes for the trip to Wiltshire, with Shaun Maloney one of a several fringe players hoping to get the nod to show the gaffer what they can do.
“It’s a great opportunity for Shaun and a number of other players who need to play football,” Martinez added.
“Gary Caldwell is another because his suspension, and I’m also looking at Nouha Dicko, Daniel Redmond and Jordan Mustoe from our development squad to show me what they can do.
“It’s been a very tough period in terms of fixtures in December and over the festive period, and I just feel some of the players need a break.
“The way we play as a team, we like to get on the ball and move all around the pitch, and that requires lots and lots of energy.
“To do that, you need to be fresh and it’s difficult to play at that level with so many games over such a short period of teams.
“The FA Cup will give us a welcome distraction in our preparations for the Manchester City game the week after.”
MANCHESTER United striker Mame Biram Diouf admits he’d be open to a loan move to Wigan.
The Senegal international – a team-mate of Momo Diame – has been loaned out to Blackburn in the past, and said: “It is an option at the moment, and a good one.
“I want to go and play week in, week out and try to impress Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Wigan could be a key for me, but there are other teams interested as well.”