Joe Garner is edging closer to the Wigan Athletic first team.
The forward arrived on transfer deadline day from Ipswich but is yet to see action for the Championship newcomers.
Paul Cook says the 30-year-old is working hard on his fitness and could poke his way into contention early next month .
“Joe had a very interrupted pre-season, through no fault of anyone,” said the manager.
“He made it very clear to Ipswich he wanted to move back north, and Ipswich tried to help him to do that.
“It’s one of those situations where you can’t blame anyone, but it’s us who must pick up the pieces.
“It’ll be at least a couple of weeks before we see him near the first team.”
But behind closed doors Garner has been working overtime to be match fit, and although his schedule is frustrating, it is necessary according to Cook.
“He’s got his own training schedule, which is good for him – or bad for him as the case may be,” he said.
“You see his face every now and then and it doesn’t look to be making him happy!
“But it’s something we must get through to have him available for the first team.”
Meanwhile, Cook hasn’t ruled out making use of the loan market to help his players gain experience.
The market closes next week, and the manager is keeping his options open.
“There’s no real pressure to move players out,” said Cook.
“But at the same time I’m a great believer in lads playing football. There are options out there that we will look at.
“Whether they come off or not remains to be seen.”