Stoke City duo Sam Clucas and Steven Fletcher could miss tomorrow’s Championship tie with Barnsley due to injury issues while defender Morgan Fox will be absent due to a hamstring problem but loan signing Abdallah Sima could feature.
The Potters got back to winning ways on the weekend with a 2-1 victory over Huddersfield Town, which leaves them one point back from league leaders West Bromwich Albion in third.
Should the Baggies and second-placed Fulham both slip up, Stoke could move top of the Championship with a win over the Tykes at the Bet 365 Stadium tomorrow.
It appears, however, that Michael O’Neill’s options are set to be limited due to injury.
The Northern Irish coach has told the club website that Fox will miss tomorrow’s game after picking up a hamstring injury in training, with the full-back set to have a scan today to find out the extent of the issue.
Clucas, who has an Achilles problem, and Fletcher, who is struggling with an ankle injury, are both going to be given every opportunity to prove their fitness ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Barnsley.
Recent arrival Abdallah Sima could feature, with O’Neill set to make a decision over whether to include the Brighton loanee in the matchday squad after he trained with the senior side.
One player that will certainly be absent is Nick Powell, who returned to training today and may be available for Saturday’s game against Derby County.
“Nick joined in with the group today which is a real positive,” explained O’Neill. “He’s probably two or three training sessions away from being ready so Saturday is probably a more realistic target for him.”
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If Stoke are to launch a serious promotion push this season and take advantage of what looks like a very open Championship at the moment, winning games like tomorrow’s could be pivotal.
O’Neill’s side welcome the Tykes to the Potteries and have the chance to crank up the pressure on the top two by making it six points from a possible six since the international break.
Having Clucas, Fletcher, and Sima all available would be a massive boost for the Potters, while Powell’s possible return on Saturday also looks likely to be a positive.
The news about Fox is slightly more concerning – though in truth he’s been little more than a bench player since the first game of the season.