Wigan boss Roberto Martinez fears the worst about James McCarthy's ankle injury after the midfielder was carried off in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Bolton at the DW Stadium.
The 19-year-old was left writhing in agony following Fabrice Muamba's challenge midway through the first half and received lengthy treatment on the pitch before leaving on a stretcher. McCarthy was then taken to hospital, and player and manager must now wait for the results of an X-ray that will determine how long he will spend on the sidelines.
Martinez said: "He's gone to the hospital and we'll get the results over the next 24 hours but it doesn't look too good. It's a real shame because he's a very young man but he's very mature on the pitch and he's been performing in a very special manner."
The Spaniard, though, did not attach any blame to Muamba for the challenge, which was from behind but came after Latics captain Antolin Alcaraz put his team-mate in trouble with a poor pass.
"It's a difficult ball for a midfielder - it's a straight ball," continued Martinez. "When you look at the replay, he clearly gets his ankle first.
"It's disappointing. The intent is to play the ball. It's from behind.
"It's one of those actions - you're sending your team-mate into the lion's den. But he's young and he's very, very fit and we hope it's not as bad as it looks."
Bolton boss Owen Coyle saw the situation in much the same way and is keeping his fingers crossed McCarthy is not seriously injured after watching him come through the ranks at Hamilton, who he left to join Wigan last summer.
Coyle said: "My thoughts are to make sure he's okay because I've known him as a young kid progressing all the way through in Scotland to where he is now, and there's no doubt he's destined for a glittering career.
"Hopefully he's back very soon. Certainly from my position it looked an innocuous challenge. They both went to shut the ball."
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