ROBERTO Martinez has described Ferrie Bodde as the standout player of his Swansea City generation after inviting the midfielder to train with Wigan.
Bodde left the Liberty last summer when his contract expired following a three-and- a-half year injury nightmare.
The Dutchman first ruptured his cruciate ligament playing for Swansea against Birmingham in 2008 and endured a series of setbacks over the next few seasons.
He suffered the injury again on one of several failed comeback attempts, and then did the same thing to his other knee in a reserve match against Arsenal last February.
That proved to be Bodde's final outing in a Swansea shirt and he returned to Holland.
There the playmaker launched another bid to revive his career and he has been training with former club ADO Den Haag.
Now Martinez has offered the 30-year-old the chance to prove himself at the Latics.
"We are trying to get Ferrie over, just to invite him back into the British game and that group environment," said the former Swansea boss.
"Ferrie was a sensational player at his peak, and was very unfortunate to pick up serious injuries to both his knees.
"When we started the project at Swansea he was a big, big part of changing the way of playing.
"He was a massive influence on the players around him — Leon Britton and Joe Allen in particular — and he is a special, special player.
"He was the only one of that generation who has never played in the Premier League and it has been a real football crime that he never got to do that.
"He was the outstanding candidate of the lot, just a sensational player, and we'll always have a soft spot for him because of that."
Martinez insists the arrangement with Bodde is an informal one at the moment.
"It's not about him signing a contract or anything, it's just a natural way of him testing himself on the next step of his recovery and see how he goes," said the Spaniard.
"When you are faced with a catalogue of injuries like that, the easiest thing is to just give up.
"For me, the fact he wants to play again is enough of a sign to be positive about what might happen.
"He just deserves for us to help him along the process, to give him the group dynamic to see how he reacts.
"Nobody can tell what might or might not happen.
"But if he feels he can get back to his best, and he truly has the belief to make it happen, that can be the difference between succeeding and failing, and I'm prepared to go along with that."
Bodde starred for Swansea as they stormed to the League One title under Martinez five years ago.
He was the subject of a £2 million bid from Derby in the summer after that season and looked to be heading for the exit door before signing a new contract.
The under-23 international maintained his form as Swansea entered the Championship, scoring seven goals in 17 league games before disaster struck.
"Joe (Allen) is the player he is because of Ferrie," added Martinez.
"When you are a young player, you pick up good habits from the good players, the senior players, around you.
"That was a clear partnership that developed at Swansea, between Joe and Ferrie.
"It's incredible how a career can change. I'll always remember we played Birmingham — we had just been promoted from League One and they had come down from the Premier League — and we absolutely battered them.
"The ball was in the corner, and Ferrie was trying to protect the ball from (Seb) Larsson, and all of a sudden his knee gave way."
Tickets for Swansea's festive away games at Reading and Fulham are still available.