Paul Cook has refused to close the door on Ryan Colclough and Devante Cole playing for Wigan Athletic again – but admits the duo could well be on their way this month.
Winger Colclough and striker Cole have found themselves on the outside looking in since the squad returned for pre-season training.
Neither player went on the warm-weather training camp to Spain, or played a single minute in pre-season, and it was no surprise to see them missing from the 18 on duty for the opening Championship game against Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend.
With Thursday’s transfer deadline fast approaching – and League One outfit Portsmouth believed to be interested in both players – there could well be some imminent movement.
But until an acceptable bid comes in for either, the Latics boss insists they remain part of his plans.
“They’re still in the squad, they’re still training with the first team,” Cook told the Wigan Post.
“It’s not a case of people having done something wrong, but when you sign players like Callum McManaman, there has to be a kick-on somewhere.
“In the case of those two, their future at this club is not over. But if something was to happen in the opposite direction, the likelihood is that it may happen.”
Cook is hoping to add to his squad both before the deadline and afterwards, with the loan window remaining open until the end of August.
But the amount of business will be nothing like the merry-go-round of 12 months ago, when there was a revolving door at the training ground.
“There’ll always be players leaving the football club as players come in,” the Latics boss acknowledged.
“The good thing at the moment is – compared to last year, when we had lads not training with the first-team squad – everyone is together at the minute.
“Sometimes people have to take different paths, and I’ll always be open and honest with players.
“Last year, there were drastic cuts we had to make to the playing squad. This year there’s nothing like that going on with the squad.”
One man not training with the first-team squad is young striker Callum Lang, whose future at the club remains unclear after talks over a new deal hit a roadblock.
“Callum’s doing great where he is, with the Development Squad,” revealed Cook.
“At the minute he’s not in the immediate plans of the first team, and his future will go wherever Callum and his agent want it to go.”