DW Stadium left counting the cost.
Wigan Athletic have been unable to train days before their crucial Premier League game against Everton after thieves struck at the club’s training ground.
The Latics squad arrived at the practice pitches to find 48 footballs had been stolen from the kit room.
Manager Roberto Martinez had to send his players for a jog as staff searched for replacements.
The culprits had made off with four bags, each containing 12 Nike balls, which had been left in the middle of the training pitch.
It is believed a side gate had been left open, allowing the thieves to sneak in sometime after 10am.
“One of the groundsmen came over to me and asked if I had seen four bags of balls,” a spectator told the Daily Mirror.
“He said they had left five bags out but when the players came out, there was only one left.
“It was hilarious. The goalkeepers arrived first, took the one remaining bag and started practice.
“When the rest of the players arrived, they were just standing around with their hands on their hips. Some of them started wandering about looking for the missing balls.
“When the manager arrived I said to him, ‘Where are the balls?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, but the police are on their way.’
“Later, someone arrived with some replacement balls.”
No one at the club was available for comment, but police confirmed they had received a report of the theft.