Martinez says Di Santo may return 'within a week' after ankle injury

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The Independent Football

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has confirmed Franco Di Santo's ankle problem is not as bad as initially feared and he hopes the striker will be able to return to action within the next fortnight.

Di Santo has been carrying the injury since the Latics' 2-2 draw at Newcastle on 16 October and last Wednesday he went to see a specialist about it in London.

Having continued playing for six weeks despite the problem, the Argentine has now missed Wigan's last two Premier League games, but Martinez is optimistic Di Santo will be back soon. "We've had some great news, in that the ligament isn't damaged," Martinez said. "We'll keep an eye on him over the next week or so, but we're hoping he is fine – which would be a massive relief.

"When you look at the players we have been without in recent weeks, and the ones we'll be without next week as well, we need big players like Franco available for selection.

"Hopefully he'll react well to treatment. If so, we're looking at two weeks maximum, probably nearer seven days."

Martinez already has James McCarthy (ankle) and Victor Moses (shoulder) in the treatment room and they were joined on Saturday by midfielder Tom Cleverley, who was substituted at half-time in the goalless draw at Everton after sustaining a suspected cracked rib.

Cleverley arrived at the DW Stadium on a season-long loan deal from Manchester United in August but reports have suggested his parent club may look to recall him in January and a spell on the sidelines now could mean the 21-year-old has played his last game for the Latics.

Martinez will also be without the suspended Hendry Thomas and Maynor Figueroa for this weekend's match with Aston Villa.

Meanwhile, Sunderland fear central defender Anton Ferdinand could be out for a month with a hamstring injury. Ferdinand limped out of the goalless draw with Fulham.

The injury is a fresh blow to Sunderland manager Steve Bruce who was already without centre-backs Titus Bramble and Michael Turner until the new year.

Nedum Onuoha will therefore have a key role to play in the coming weeks, and he is readying himself for an important run of games.

North-west quartet Bolton, Manchester United, Blackpool and Bolton await the Black Cats between this Saturday and New Year's Day.

And Onuoha said: "The opportunity is there to get points on the board, and with the ambition this side has we want to bag as many as we can. Bolton are flying high at the moment but they are only two points ahead of us. Obviously they're doing a lot of things well at the moment so we are going to have to give 110 per cent on the day."