Fulham boss Roy Hodgson admits he would be reluctant to gamble on signing Giles Barnes without seeing the on-loan midfielder play.
Barnes joined the Premier League club from Derby County in January, but has yet to make a first-team appearance.
The 20-year-old has been struggling with an Achilles problem which is hampering his prospects of securing a £2million move to Craven Cottage at the end of the season.
And Hodgson concedes that, while Barnes may be available on the cheap, he is not keen to sign a player who he has not seen in action.
"If the worst happens and we have to inject him - then it's two weeks before he can play while the ankle settles down - and that would take us through to the end of the season," said Hodgson in the Ealing Gazette.
"You say it might be cheaper to buy an injured player. But it would mean we would be taking a chance on somebody whom we haven't researched properly."
Hodgson has praised Barnes' improvement in his general fitness since his temporary switch and has no complaints about his attitude.
He added: "Giles' body shape has changed enormously since he's been here. His body mass index is now very acceptable, and his attitude has been first class - he's just been terribly unlucky."