Fulham midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe has returned to Wigan Athletic on loan until the end of season, the club’s official website has confirmed this afternoon.

The former Manchester United youth team captain has headed back to his native north west after failing to feature in Slavisa Jokanovic’s first-team plans since October. Tunnicliffe, who was previously shipped out to the Latics on loan at the tail end of the 2013/2014 by Felix Magath, has seen his chances of regular game time at Craven Cottage hampered by the signings of Kevin McDonald and Stefan Johansen. The midfielder has made just ten senior appearances this term Fulham felt it was best to offer the 22 year-old a chance to play elsewhere.

Tunnicliffe initially struggled to establish a place in the Fulham set-up following the sudden sacking of Rene Meulensteen, who brought him to the club at the end of the transfer window in 2014. He had made an impressive Fulham debut in a memorable 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on the right of a rejigged midfield and delivered another solid performance in an agonising home defeat by Liverpool two days later but after Meulensteen’s departure, Magath decided he was surplus to requirements.

After making just four league appearances on loan at the DW Stadium, Tunnicliffe enjoyed more successive loan stint with Blackburn Rovers before being recalled by Kit Symons, who had replaced Magath in charge at Craven Cottage. He became a key part of the side that eventually secured their Championship status with a number of characteristically combative displays in central midfield. The Heywood-born midfielder has made 66 appearances for Fulham with his two goals being a close-range finish against Charlton Athletic and a sublime lob at Bristol City that won the club’s goal of the month award.

Tunicliffe, whose Fulham contract expires at the end of the season, will go straight into Warren Joyce’s squad for Wigan’s home fixture with Brentford tomorrow afternoon.