Stoke City defender and club captain Ryan Shawcross is facing a race against time to be fit to play against West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
Shawcross picked up an calf injury in December against Fulham and has made just three Championship appearances this season following a broken leg he sustained in July.
Stoke’s defence has been pretty solid since Michael O’Neill’s arrival, but the former Northern Ireland boss will still be keen to reintegrate such an experienced player into his squad. Shawcross has made a decent recovery, but the club are likely to be cautious with him for the remainder of this season given that he already suffered a setback this year.
Ahead of Stoke’s match with Milwall on Saturday, O’Neill told Martin Spinks of the Stoke Sentinel:
“He’s still not ready yet. We hope that with a good week’s training in him next week and a nine-day period to the next game on the Monday night will give him a better chance than this week has done.”
In Shawcross’ absence, Liam Lindsay and Danny Batth have been starting at the centre of the Stoke defence with Bruno Martins-Indi filling in at left-back. Youth prospect Nathan Collins has also appeared this season.
O’Neill has been impressed with the form of Stoke’s defenders in recent weeks and praised Lindsay for his improved performances. However, Shawcross has made 448 appearances for Stoke in his 13 years at the club, as well as one ill-fated England cap in 2012.
Stoke go into the match up with West Brom one point clear of the relegation zone.