Phil Parkinson has admitted Bolton may require Gary Madine to play through the pain barrier, in hope of securing promotion to the Championship.
Aside from a 45-minute spell in victory at Southend United, Madine has otherwise failed to feature in four of Wanderers' last five matches - all of which have failed to bring a solitary goal as their place in the top-two of League One becomes increasingly under threat.
In fact, in ten league matches without Madine this season, the Trotters have failed to win and have scored just two goals in the process.
Tuesday's goalless draw against Bury once again highlighted the 26-year-old's importance to the side and Parkinson, when quizzed after the game, admitted he may be forced into bringing the forward back sooner than planned for the weekend trip to Port Vale.
"It's a very difficult one because Gary is going to have to play with pain," Parkinson told The Bolton News.
"I've had shoulder injuries, dislocated it, had some really bad ones and they are not right for months.
"I said to him yesterday if you are going to wait until it's perfect you won't be playing this season. At some point it'll have to be strapped up, get an injection in it and get back out there.
"He has been running again and will keep progressing. He doesn't want to play and then have to come off again after 15 minutes but if he wants to play a part in the run-in, it needs to get to a level where he can manage it.
"He has to do everything he can morning, noon and night to give himself a chance of playing. That's all we want from him.
"If he gets out there, great, if not, we'll have to win without him.
"The frustrating thing is in the past few games we've had so many chances this shouldn't be an issue we're discussing - but we are because we haven't scored enough goals."