Roberto Martinez is tipping Adrian Lopez to play a prominent role for Wigan in their 2012/13 Premier League campaign.
The Spaniard joined the Latics from Deportivo La Coruna in December 2010, penning a short-term deal.
That agreement was extended by a further two years after he impressed the club's coaching staff.
Lopez began the 2011/12 season in Martinez's starting XI, in the absence of Antolin Alcaraz, but slowly slipped down the pecking order.
He came back into contention for a final day showdown with Wolves and offered enough to suggest that he could be a useful asset at the DW Stadium next term.
"I do expect him to challenge the more established players next season," Martinez told the Wigan Evening Post.
"He is still a very young man, but he has great experience from playing for Deportivo in La Liga. And we are all hoping he will continue to develop over the summer."
He added on a man who was snapped up as a free agent: "Adrian is a very quick defender with outstanding distribution and is good in the air - he has everything.
"We will do our best this summer to help him with a structured training programme, and I see him really challenging next season."