Steven Fletcher is nervously awaiting results of medical assessment, as Stoke City fear losing another key player.
Fletcher is just another name added to a long list of injury concerns for the Potters this season. This is the second campaign in a row to be impacted by substantial injuries to important players.
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill explained the issue as a hip problem for the striker.
“It was certainly a blow for us when he came off,” said O’Neill, via the Stoke Sentinel.
“In the first half I thought he was excellent for us. He linked the play, gave us a focal point at the top end of the pitch.
“We’ve just got to see. It looks unlikely that he will be ready for [the FA Cup game against Leyton Orient next Sunday].
“The injury list is ever growing but we’ve just got to continue to work with the players that are fit and available.”
Fletcher now joins the list of injuries at Stoke alongside Jordan Thompson, Nick Powell, Romaine Sawyers, Joe Bursik, Harry Souttar, Abdallah Sima, Josh Tymon and Tom Edwards.
Considering this happened to Stoke last season, too, with a similarly long injury list, O’Neill was asked whether it is bad luck, a coincidence, or something the club can fix.
“We’ve a really stringent medical team and sports science team,” said O’Neill recently.
“If you look at the injuries, nearly all have happened in games. I think the only injury we’ve had this season which was training based was Morgan Fox,” he added.
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Stoke will want to avoid any more major injuries to maintain their playoff push into the second half of the campaign. The team is currently eighth in the Championship table.
O’Neill’s side lost their most recent game, 2-1, to Preston North End. An 81st minute winner came courtesy of Andrew Hughes for the away side.
This consigned Stoke to their second league loss in a row.
Despite this, the Potters are still within touching distance of sixth place Huddersfield Town, who are five points ahead.
Stoke’s next fixture comes at home against Leyton Orient on January 9 in the Third Round of the FA Cup. Their next league game is a trip to Barnsley on January 12.
Stoke’s bad luck has struck again, losing another key player is going to seriously dent their playoff hopes.
This will be a stern test of O’Neill’s adaptability as he figures out what to do without so many players.
However, that it’s happened again this season should be a longer-term cause for concern. It surely can’t just be down to rotten luck that this keeps happening.