Stoke City have seemingly been handed a triple fitness boost, with Thibaud Verlinden, Ryan Shawcross and Joe Allen all having been included in the club’s under-23 side to face West Bromwich Albion this afternoon.
The trio have all been sidelined through injury for much of the current campaign and will certain be welcome returnees for Michael O’Neill’s side once they get their match fitness up to scratch.
Allen is yet to have made an appearance this season for the Potters after damaging his Achilles against Hull City at the back end of the previous campaign, whilst Shawcross has suffered from a broken leg and a series of muscular injuries that has prevented him from playing regularly for the best part of a year.
Furthermore, Verlinden’s game time has also been limited by an anterior cruciate ligament injury that he sustained in February of this year.
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) December 21, 2020
Quiz: Have any of these 22 players ever been in Stoke City’s academy?
With all three players being involved in today’s game, it is unlikely that any of the trio will play any part in the club’s upcoming cup and league games against Tottenham Hotspur and Coventry City respectively.
The return of these three players will no doubt give their teammates some extra confidence as we head into the new year, particularly with Shawcross and Allen being two of the more senior players in the squad.
Verlinden also adds some more depth in wide areas and the Belgian attacker will no doubt be chomping at the bit to make an impact under O’Neill in order to nail down a starting spot under the Northern Irishman.
The Potters have performed well in the absence of the three players and competition for places will be higher than ever if their form continues on it’s current trajectory.
These players must manage their returns slowly as rushing back to action too quickly could set the back once more and they will be only too aware of that, particularly in the case of Shawcross who has been through a lot over the last few years.