MARK HUGHES has revealed that Asmir Begovic could be in line to miss his first league start of the campaign after suffering a thigh injury in training this week.
The Bosnian international, who has been in fine form for the Potters this term, is currently rated as ‘doubtful’ to feature at the KC Stadium in front of the live television cameras on Saturday.
Speaking to stokecityfc.com on Thursday, Hughes said: “Asmir is the big worry for us at the moment, because of a knock he has picked up to his thigh on Tuesday.
“He has a bit of bleeding in there, so we need to nurse him and then assess him tomorrow to see where he is at.
“It is a bit of a concern because he has been outstanding for us this year, but we will see what happens over the course of the next 24 hours.”
His potential absence could mean a first league start for Thomas Sorensen in over two years.
“If Asmir isn’t ready then I will have no qualms in throwing Thomas into the team,” he added. “He is a top keeper in his own right who has an abundance of experience behind him.
“He has been and still is a top class goalkeeper, and I am sure that he would relish the chance to come back into the side for a Premier League game.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan Walters is certain to miss out on a return to his former stomping ground after registering his fifth caution of the campaign during the 3-2 triumph against Chelsea.
That may mean a return to the starting eleven for match-winner Oussama Assaidi, who had started in each of the Potters two previous league fixtures prior to Saturday’s victory against the Blues.
One player who is certain to miss out is winger Matthew Etherington. The former West Ham star has returned to training this week following a spell on the sidelines, but Hughes admits that the game will come too early for him to make his return.
“Matty has joined the squad again in training this week but I think it will be more worthwhile letting him recuperate back here this weekend, rather than sitting in a coach for three hours.
“We will hopefully get him involved in the Under 21 game for a spell tomorrow afternoon, which will help him build up his match fitness again.”
Finally, Erik Pieters has declared himself available again after missing last weekend’s encounter, although Hughes says he hasn’t yet made a decision as to whether to thrust him back into the starting eleven, given the impressive performances of youngster Marc Muniesa.
“It’s a very nice problem to have two quality players battling for one position,” he smiled. “Erik has been fantastic this season, but Marc was outstanding against Chelsea. It’s one that I will have to sleep on.”
Watch the broadcast section of the pre-match press conference in our official YouTube channel's video below...