Wigan manager Roberto Martinez hopes midfielder James McCarthy will come back from injury a stronger player.
The 19-year-old went under the knife this week after suffering ankle ligament damage in a tackle from Bolton's Fabrice Muamba a fortnight ago.
Wigan had been hoping that the former Hamilton man would not need an operation but fears surfaced that intensive rehabilitation could cause long-term problems.
McCarthy is expected to return to action before the end of January and boss Martinez believes he will be stronger for it.
He said: "The most important thing is to see James McCarthy getting back on the football pitch with no problem in that ankle.
"The best way to do that is to make sure the two ligaments in the ankle that were ruptured heal properly. This is the best treatment.
"He is going to come back stronger and, physically, probably in a better situation than he was before the injury.
"He is now starting his recovery programme and is looking in good spirits, but it is probably going to be the best part of three months."
Wigan go to North West rivals Blackburn in the Premier League on Saturday but the Latics will be without defender Emmerson Boyce who is set to be sidelined for another 10 days.