MARK HUGHES says that tomorrow’s game will come too early for the likes of Ryan Shawcross, Marc Muniesa and Glen Johnson… but hinted that Geoff Cameron could be in-line for a return to the fold.
The United States international has been side-lined with a niggling ankle injury for the past two months - one that he sustained during the early stages of the January defeat against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
The 30-year-old played through the pain-barrier to start in the Capital One Cup Semi-Final first leg with Liverpool a few days later, but was forced off at the interval after feeling the effects of the knock.
He has since been absent from the side although Mark Hughes implied that he could be in the frame to make his return against the Villans.
“The thing with Geoff is that if we think he is good to go then we have no worries about his fitness, although he hasn’t trained a great deal with the group,” Hughes told Stoke City Player
“He is a big guy, a fit guy and a real athlete and he won’t have a problem in coming straight back in if we think he is ready.
“At the moment we are lacking defenders because we have multiple injuries in the same position, and when that happens you are always going to be a little light on the ground.
“We have lost Marc Muniesa, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Geoff, who gives us a lot of versatility and flexibility, and Glen Johnson, who will be missing for another four or five weeks, too.
“To lose all of those will impact us. You have to have balance in the team and at times it has been difficult to get that.
“Thankfully two or three of them are really close now and hopefully we will be able to get them back into the group really soon.”
The Welshman also revealed that skipper Ryan Shawcross could be on course for a possible return against Newcastle United on Wednesday evening, although the clash with Chelsea on Saturday week is a more feasible target.
“We hope that we can get some football into him with the group with a view towards Wednesday, but if not then he should be fine for next Saturday,” he said on Friday.
“I seem to recall he did exceptionally well when we brought him back from injury against Chelsea earlier in the season, so that may well be a good target for him.
“We want to make sure we get him right, feeling good and in a position where he can come back and finish the season strongly, for himself and for us.”