Anthony Pilkington is fighting to be fit for Wigan Athletic’s massive six-pointer against Bolton Wanderers at the DW on Saturday.
The 30-year-old, who has completed 90 minutes only once since arriving from Cardiff in January, has been nursing a knee problem.
But with the relegation stakes raised by a disastrous sequence of midweek results, which saw Latics remain out of the drop zone only on goal difference, boss Paul Cook needs all men back on deck.
“Anthony’s out training, he is improving well, but it’s important we don’t rush these things,” assessed the gaffer, who saw his side blow a gilt-edged opportunity to pick up points at out-of-sorts Blackburn on Tuesday.
The visitors produced one of their worst performances of the season at Ewood Park, conceding ‘criminal goals’ in the 3-0 defeat and hardly threatening Rovers at all.
Callum McManaman’s appearance off the bench at half-time sparked some life into Latics, with his first touch leading to Nick Powell heading against the outside of the post.
And Cook could not believe that did not lead to more of the same.
“I just thought we lacked quality in the final third, and Cal gives us so much quality in that area,” the Latics boss mused.
“We got the ball to him, and then for some reason we stopped getting the kid the ball. I just don’t grasp that.”
McManaman will be champing at the bit for involvement tomorrow, having grabbed the winner in Latics’ last victory over Bolton – a 3-2 victory at the DW back in December 2013.
Powell also found the mark that day, with a brilliant overhead kick, and Latics will need to rediscover that groove if they are to give themselves a lifeline in the dogfight.
“I’m sure the Wigan fans are very unhappy at the minute,” added Cook.
“But the last couple of times this club has been in this division, we’ve been relegated.
“Sometimes it’s not just how everyone expects things to be.
“Sometimes within hardship you have to find that solution.
“That solution would be great if we could all come together.
“I’m not telling our fans what to do.
“I’m telling them to do what they believe in and what they think is right.”