Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill fears that he could be missing striker Steven Fletcher for a number of games after he suffered an injury against Bournemouth last night.
The Scot limped off after just 25 minutes against the Cherries, and Stoke clearly missed his presence up-front as they slumped to a 1-0 loss thanks to a Junior Stanislas strike.
The 33-year-old was a summer signing from Sheffield Wednesday after the Yorkshire club released him, and was tasked with improving the scoring powers of a pretty blunt Stoke attack.
He has netted four times for the Potters this season and has become the focal point of O’Neill’s attack, with talents like Nick Powell and Tyrese Campbell playing off him.
Surprisingly for the most part of the current campaign he has managed to stay fit and healthy, which is a big plus considering the injury struggles he’s faced in recent years.
But worryingly it’s a new issue that seems to have plagued Fletcher, and not the same issue that he faced earlier in the season with his knee.
“It’s too early to say. The fact he came off and looked in quite a lot of discomfort as he came off is not a good sign,” O’Neill told the Stoke Sentinel.
“I would imagine he would be out for a period of time. How long that is, obviously it’s too difficult to say at this minute in time.”
“I think it’s his groin. It’s too early to say the extent of the damage. It’s a big blow. We had to shuffle the pack a little bit and obviously it’s another striker who’s going to be out.”
With the injury struggles Stoke are already facing, an extended spell on the sidelines for Fletcher is the last thing O’Neill needed.
Tyrese Campbell is out for the rest of the season and Lee Gregory is also currently out, limiting Stoke’s striker options to Sam Vokes and Jacob Brown.
You’d think that the Northern Irishman would like to add another striker to his ranks this month on the back of this news – whether he has the funds to do that is another matter.