DAVID Wheater faces up to a month out of action with a back injury.

Scans have shown that the big defender suffered a slipped disc during the warm-up in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Leeds United.

He started the game at Elland Road but was forced off the field after just seven minutes and replaced by Dorian Dervite.

It is understood Wheater will miss the upcoming home games against Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United after the international break but any further absence will depend on how he responds to treatment.

The 27-year-old has featured in five of the Whites’ seven games so far this season alongside Matt Mills at the heart of Dougie Freedman’s defence.

Dervite will now be favourite to take his place against the Owls after the international break, although Wanderers expect Dean Moxey could also be in contention, which could mean Tim Ream moving back into the middle.

Meanwhile, Andy Hughes has addressed disgruntled fans on Twitter by explaining his new role at the club.

The 36-year-old, who registered as a player after his arrival in the summer, appeared on the bench against Leeds on Saturday but the new Under-19s coach insists his sole objective is to help younger players into the first team.

Fans also took a dim view to the salute made by Hughes and fellow ex-Leeds star Jermaine Beckford at Elland Road – another situation explained in a series of messages to one supporter which have now been made public.

“I understand how mad you must be and I am big enough to answer you,” he wrote to one fan from his official account.

“We have to stick together as fans and a team and come out of this period.

“My role at the club is to play and assist the young players and, as an experienced player, also help and play for the first-team.

“At the minute, we have three full-backs injured and three midfield players and, yesterday, we should have at least won or got a point.

“We feel worse for letting you, as fans, down and our own families.

“Playing for Leeds and being successful there (means) I had an amazing relationship with the fans and I will always be thankful to them, as indeed I'm sure Bolton legends will be thankful – i.e. Kevin Davies.

“To you, as Bolton fans, I hope this answers you. Please stay positive, as we need to stick together.”