Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has suggested that the Potters are remaining cautious over midfielder Tashan Oakley-Boothe, with him currently suffering issues with his hamstring.
Oakley-Boothe has not featured for the Potters since coming off the bench 55 minutes into Stoke’s 2-0 win against Wycombe Wanderers at the start of the month. He has been on the bench for the last two matches in the Championship. The midfielder has been an important member of the squad so far this term managing to make 16 appearances in the league (Sofascore).
The 21-year-old though is now set miss out on the squad for the game against Derby County on Saturday at the Bet365 Stadium, and that means that the Potters now have as many as seven players out of action. That comes after Steven Fletcher was forced off the field in the first half of their goalless draw away against Cardiff City in midweek.
Speaking to the Stoke Sentinel, O’Neill revealed that Oakley-Boothe has now joined the list of players Stoke have unavailable at the moment and he suggested that they are having to be cautious over him due to him suffering some problems with his hamstring at the moment.
He said: “He’s got a bit of a hamstring problem which has unfortunately flared up and if we push him too hard it could aggravate that and put him out for longer than is necessary.”
This is a very challenging period for the Potters and for O’Neill with Stoke needing to keep themselves motivated despite seemingly having little left to play for given the play-offs are likely now too far out of reach. That means that with injuries hampering their squad size the rest of the players need to continue to be relied upon to keep plugging away.
Losing Oakley-Boothe as well as Fletcher from the squad will be another major blow for O’Neill, with the 21-year-old an option to come into the side to add more energy into the middle of the park to prevent the Potters from tiring in the end-of-season run-in. It could also have been a chance for him to be handed some chances from the start to assess whether he is ready to start more often next term.
However, given the other injuries that they have at the moment, you feel that O’Neill is right to be cautious over Oakely-Boothe is there is any doubt over his fitness. Hopefully, by monitoring his condition and being careful over his potential return to involvement he will be able to return sooner and help to provide another needed option.