Luke Garbutt is hoping to give Wigan Athletic manager Warren Joyce a welcome boost by proving his fitness for the Boxing Day trip to Rotherham.
The on-loan Everton man missed last weekend’s 3-2 home defeat to Ipswich after suffering a back injury during the previous clash against Newcastle.
But he says the problem is not serious, and hopes to back in the fold for a massive six-pointer in South Yorkshire.
“The injury’s not too bad, it’s settled down a lot over the last few days,” Garbutt told the Evening Post.
“It was basically just the speed of movement made the whole of my left side spasm.
“Hopefully I should be all right for Boxing Day.”
Garbutt was signed by then-boss Gary Caldwell at the start of the season, primarily to play on the left-hand side of the defence.
But the 23-year-old proved his versatility – and importance to the squad – by filling in at right-back after a spate of injuries in that position.
If passed fit, Garbutt would slot back in on the right-hand side, which would allow skipper Stephen Warnock to switch to his more natural position at left-back.
And the Harrogate-born ace is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing Latics at the New York Stadium.
“Everyone at the club knows the importance of the game,” he acknowledged.
“I think the lads need to show a real spirit and determination to go and get the win.
“We’ve got to go into every game at the moment trying to get the three points.
“Especially against the teams in and around us in the table, we need to be picking up maximum points – and I think the boys know that.
“We can’t get carried away with the emotion of the occasion. If we can play our own game and keep it solid at the back, that’s what we’re aiming for.
“I think up until Saturday we’ve been quite solid at the back, and we want to get back to that as quickly as possible.”
It’s the first of back-to-back festive games on the road in the space of five days – with Latics also travelling down to Derby on New Year’s Eve – and Garbutt feels that will suit the side rather than hinder it.
“I think we’ve generally done better away from home than at the DW this season,” he added. “And that should also stand us in good stead for the next two games.
“If we can win the Rotherham game, we should have confidence to take into Derby on New Year’s Eve.
“That would allow us to go there with a freedom and calmness, and hopefully allow us to cause them problems as well.”