Watson closing on Wigan return
Wigan midfielder Ben Watson is back in training and could return to action before the end of the season, manager Roberto Martinez has revealed.
There were fears Watson could be out for the rest of the season after breaking his leg in an innocuous challenge with Raheem Sterling in the defeat at Liverpool last November.
But the 27-year-old did not require surgery and the speed of his recovery has given Martinez a lift as they continue their battle against relegation from the Premier League.
Martinez said: "He is already on the grass, and that is something we didn't expect until probably the end of March.
"I will be very surprised if he doesn't get at least one or two games before the season finishes.
"That is very encouraging and it shows a lot from Ben - how he has been acting on a daily basis and how professional he has been in his recovery.
"It is a real good boost for everyone to see his smiling face around the training ground and he is looking forward to just being on the pitch, which is a refreshing attitude."
Wigan were beaten 3-0 at Anfield on the day Watson suffered his injury and face the Reds again at the DW Stadium this weekend.
Martinez said: "It was sad to look back at what happened at Anfield.
"It was a very unfortunate incident that nine times out of 10 wouldn't bring a major fracture.
"It was a disappointing moment but now, as we play the return fixture, we see all the positive vibes from Ben that he is going to be hopefully fully fit before the end of the season."
Wigan hope left-back Maynor Figueroa can overcome the effects of a bad tackle by Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak to feature against Liverpool.
Figueroa was on target as Wigan won 3-0 at the Madejski Stadium to move out of the relegation zone, but he was also on the end of a challenge that saw Pogrebnyak sent off.
Martinez said: "Maynor was very fortunate. He ankle has been affected but it wasn't a rupture or a major injury in his ligaments.
"It was a little bit higher than a broken ankle.
"He has got the stud marks and he hasn't been able to train yet.
"We will assess him over the next 48 hours and see where he is for the weekend."
There has been speculation over Figueroa's future at Wigan, with the Honduras international out of contract at the end of the season.
West Ham have been linked with the 29-year-old but, while he accepts other clubs might be interested, Martinez does not want to comment on the situation.
The Spaniard said: "I am not surprised. When you are a defender who can come up with the type of goal he came up with on Saturday, you can get the type of compliments he gets behind closed doors outside.
"But I don't expect teams to talk about players who are under contract and I would never speak about players of other teams under contract at this stage of the season.
"I don't think this is the right time to do it."