Paul Cook admits he’s having to wrap Wigan Athletic left-back Reece James in cotton wool to avoid a recurrence of his injury nightmare.
James has spent 18 months on the sidelines since suffering a foot problem against Chesterfield in January 2016.
The ex-Manchester United man has suffered several setbacks in his attempts to return to the Latics first-team set-up.
It had looked like he was over his problems when he played in the first two games of pre-season, against Liverpool and Southport.
But he was conspicuous by his absence in the subsequent friendlies against Notts County and Grimsby, and Cook says he’s having to adopt a safety-first approach to the situation.
“Reece has been out for a long time, and we’re now getting to the stage where we’re less than a week away from the season,” he told the Wigan Post.
“Reece needs games like everyone else needs games.
“But it takes time when you’ve had problems like he has.
“You can’t play a couple of halves of football and be expect to be back firing again.”
It was therefore no surprise when Cook swooped for Leicester left-back Callum Elder earlier this week to add cover to that position.
And the young Australian says Wigan’s promotion aspirations fit with his own ambition.
“The gaffer wants us to really take to the league this season and be a powerhouse, so if I can bring that to his plans then hopefully it can be a successful season,” Elder said.
“He was excited and positive from the very first phone call I had with him, so I’m really looking forward to getting started and working under him.
“I definitely want to improve as a player and I believe the gaffer can help me do that.
“He’s worked with a lot of good full-backs, so I want to gain all the knowledge I can off him and to be involved in a squad that’s so positive and talented.”
Elder won’t be completely new to the fold, having worked with Nick Powell during the forward’s loan spell at Leicester three years ago.
“I spoke to Nick before coming here and he had nothing but positive things to say about the club,” revealed Elder.