Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has revealed that Sam Clucas is out for the foreseeable future and James McClean will be out injured for at least the next few weeks, while Steven Fletcher could potentially return in midweek.
The Potters’ faint hopes of making it into the top six this season were dealt another major blow on Saturday with Stoke going down 2-1 at promotion-chasing Brentford. O’Neill’s side were unable to compensate for the lack of quality without the likes of the influential Clucas, McClean and Fletcher on the field, who were all notable absentees and saw the squad further stretched.
Both Clucas and McClean have reportedly been playing on through the pain felt by their respective injuries over the winter period, but now they are set to require treatment to get themselves back into a better condition. Fletcher meanwhile missed out on the trip to Brentford with a groin injury and the Potters need him back and available to pose more of a threat in the final third.
Speaking to the Stoke Sentinel following the Potters’ defeat at Brentford, O’Neill confirmed that Clucas has had surgery on a hernia problem that will keep him out of action for a while, and added that McClean is out for around four to six weeks. He did suggest Fletcher will be assessed ahead of the midweek game against Swansea.
“Sam Clucas had surgery yesterday on a double hernia and won’t be available for the foreseeable future. McClean had an injection on a foot injury so the time frame for him is four to six weeks.
“Fox is still out with a hamstring injury, Matondo will hopefully train this week possibly, we’ll just have to see where Fletcher is.”
This is another major setback for the Potters whose squad has already been majorly stretched by the season-ending injuries suffered to both Tyrese Campbell and Nathan Collins. Their squad looked thin against Brentford without the likes of Clucas, McClean and Fletcher as well and it is looking like almost an impossible job for a top-six push now.
Clucas has been a real miss for them at times this season when he has been out, after he fired in 11 goals and three assists last term in 44 appearances (Sofascore). He has only managed 17 appearances in the league this time around and will now miss yet more action through injury, but the hope will be he can recover from surgery and get himself back ready for next season.
As for McClean, he has been more involved this term and losing him for the next few weeks will be a real blow but could provide more chances to younger players coming through. The Potters might at least be boosted by a return of Fletcher in midweek and he could make a bit more of a difference for them.