Everton striker Andrew Johnson was told he will be out for "weeks, rather than months" after having further tests on the ankle injury he sustained at Wigan.
Johnson has been Everton's main source of goals, with nine so far this season.
It was feared Johnson had broken his left ankle on Sunday when colliding with Latics goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.
Preliminary checks showed no obvious fracture but following further scans on Monday, physio Mick Rathbone still described it as a "significant" injury.
The £6million England forward is unlikely to play again before March.
Johnson was caught by sliding Wigan's former Liverpool keeper Kirkland as he chased a ball between the Latics stopper and defender David Unsworth in Everton's 2-0 victory at the JJB Stadium.
He looked in agony as he received treatment before being carried off, with concerned boss David Moyes looking on.
Rathbone has now confirmed the extent of the injury, saying: "All the evidence suggests that there is no bone injury and that the damage is confined to the soft tissues.
"Although this can be interpreted as good news, it is still a significant ankle injury.
"I would estimate a recovery period for Andy of a matter of weeks rather than months."
It is unlikely boss David Moyes will be able to bring in a replacement during the transfer window.
But teenager Victor Anichebe may get an opportunity to enhance his growing reputation.
Another youngster, James Vaughan, will also come into contention as will former England striker James Beattie, who has been confined to the bench for much of the season,
Everton are still awaiting completion of midfielder Manuel Fernandes' loan move from Benfica, while Wales international Simon Davies is tying up the details of a £3million move to Fulham.