Stoke City look set to be without five senior players tomorrow evening when they travel south to take on Watford at Vicarage Road.
Michael O’Neill has confirmed that he has no fresh injury concerns, but that doesn’t hide the fact that Stoke are heading to Watford without some very important players.
Joe Allen and Sam Clucas are amongst those out.
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Speaking ahead of the fixture, O’Neill told the club’s official media channels: “James Chester is still going to be absent, Nathan Collins is unlikely to be fit and the longer ones, Sam Clucas, Joe Allen and Ryan Shawcross are still unavailable to us at this minute in time.
“We haven’t added to that list but it’ll be good for us if those players can get back and challenge to be part of the squad as soon as possible.”
Despite the absence of those five senior players, there was still a positive result for Stoke on Saturday, as James McClean’s first-half goal secured them a 1-0 win over Rotherham United.
That’s left them eighth in the table ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Watford, who occupy sixth at this moment in time.
League leaders, Reading FC, await on Saturday, which leads Stoke into the November international break.
Stoke picked up a good win against Rotherham at the weekend and have been without a couple of these players for some time. However, there’s little denying the fact that O’Neill would prefer to be going into battle against Watford with them.
Clucas and Allen are two really important players to this side, whilst the other three are all capable defenders who offer depth.
With the international break looming now, it’ll be vitally important for Stoke to get a few of these players back. November and December are notoriously the most important months of the season. Get those right and Stoke might be in business in terms of competing for promotion.
A fully fit squad will boost their chance.
Thoughts? Let us know!