Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has suggested that both midfielder Joe Allen and winger Thibaud Verlinden are not ready to return to action, were the season to resume, but that both players are making progress on their respective injuries.
Allen suffered an Achilles injury during the Potters’ final game before the Championship season was brought to a halt, with the Wales international being forced off just before the break in Stoke’s resounding 5-1 win against Hull City at the Bet365 Stadium.
Verlinden, meanwhile, has been out of action since picking up a knee injury after coming off the bench in the final ten minutes of the Potters’ 2-0 defeat at home to Preston North End back in February – and that prevented the 20-year-old from being able to really push for a regular place in the side.
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Speaking to Stoke City + (via the Stoke Sentinel), O’Neill suggested that both players will not be ready to return to action despite the break in the campaign, but that both Allen and Verlinden are making progress as they look to gradually ease their way back to full fitness.
He said: “Joe is walking, which is good. On the first day I saw him he was walking with the aid of crutches and now he’s walking without crutches.
“It’s a slow process for Joe, really. It’s just getting moving again. He’s been in a boot for a long time, which means muscle wastage which builds up over time. But it’s nice to see him again at the training ground.
“Thibaud looks good. His knee has healed well, the scar. He’s been running on the AlterG treadmill and the next stage for him is to start running outside, which will be good for him as well.
“For the long-term injuries it’s been difficult for the players.
“The medical team have done a good job in maintaining that contact with those players during lockdown. They’ve had them in when it’s been feasible to do it. And the players have clearly applied themselves well as well.”
This is somewhat encouraging news for Stoke ahead of the potential resumption of the campaign, with Allen in particular a player who could prove to a real miss for the Potters in the closing matches of the campaign, but it is vital that he is not rushed back before he is fully recovered.
It seems like Verlinden is a lot closer to a potential return than Allen, but it will remain to be seem whether that would be before the end of the season, and the winger will just be concentrating on ensuring that he can fully recover so he can push for more first team action next term.
Stoke are still not clear of relegation danger, so if the season resumes it is vital that they manage to keep as many of their other influential players fully fit, with Allen likely to be a tough figure to replace at the heart of their midfield, but the Potters should still have enough to ensure their survival.