Stoke City are going through one thing of a defensive choice disaster forward of their closing Premier League outing of 2017 in opposition to Chelsea on Saturday (30 December), with three senior centre-backs set to overlook the journey to Stamford Bridge.
Kurt Zouma, who returned to motion earlier this month following a hamstring drawback, is unavailable to characteristic in opposition to his guardian membership per the phrases of a season-long mortgage deal and Bruno Martins Indi isn’t anticipated to return for one more two-and-a-half weeks after groin damage that noticed him stretchered off through the second half of the 2-1 win over Swansea City on 2 December.
To make issues worse for under-pressure Stoke supervisor Mark Hughes, Ryan Shawcross now seems set to be out till the New Yr.
The influential captain lasted for under 32 minutes of the feisty 1-1 draw at Huddersfield Town on Boxing Day – a match that noticed Ramadan Sobhi’s second-half equaliser cancel out an early opener from Tom Ince – attributable to a calf criticism.
“We predict it is a calf pressure,” Hughes was quoted as saying by the Stoke Sentinel. “It is perhaps that he is obtained a kick on it and obtained a spasm, however that is the best-case situation if we’re being trustworthy.
“However the actuality is he is executed some harm to the calf and might be unavailable, which emphasises our lack of defensive cowl in the mean time as a result of Kurt Zouma is unavailable in opposition to his guardian membership (Chelsea).”
That triple absence will come as a crushing blow to a porous Stoke defence which have conceded three extra targets than another crew to this point (41) this season, stored simply two clear sheets and gained solely one in all their first 10 away matches.
The likes of Kevin Wimmer, versatile American Geoff Cameron and children Tom Edwards and Josh Tymon might be anticipated to deputise in opposition to a third-place Chelsea crew that just lately sealed their sixth straight home top-flight victory over Brighton & Hove Albion because of headers from Alvaro Morata and Marcos Alonso.
Antonio Conte’s in-form aspect haven’t misplaced a sport in entrance of their very own supporters since 30 September, after they had been toppled by runaway leaders Manchester City.
Fielding lesser-spotted former Blues defender Glen Johnson at centre-back is one other – albeit extremely unlikely – possibility for Hughes, who could possibly be boosted by the return of standard left-back Erik Pieters following a hip drawback.
Lengthy-term absentee Stephen Eire has not performed for Stoke since breaking his leg in Could 2016, and Paris Saint-Germain loanee Jese Rodriguez, disciplined internally after leaving the bench early in opposition to Swansea, is alleged to be engaged on his health after coming back from Gran Canaria, the place he was visiting his in poor health son.
“We would be capable to get Erik Pieters again on the weekend, however that may be contact and go,” Hughes added.
Chelsea are anticipated to stay with out David Luiz (knee) and Charly Musonda (groin) for the go to of Stoke to West London, though centre-back Andreas Christensen might characteristic once more after lacking the Brighton win by way of sickness.