ROBERT HUTH’S absence against West Ham United will pave the way for either Marc Wilson or Geoff Cameron to fill in at centre back this weekend . . . Tony Pulis confirmed at Thursday morning’s pre-match press conference.
The German international , who has been an ever present this season, will now miss the Potters’ next three Premier League games, having been retrospectively banned by the FA following an off-the-ball incident with Fulham defender Philippe Senderos.
The departure of Matthew Upson in the January transfer window leaves the City boss with limited options at the back, however, he still believes he has adequate cover in the shape of both Wilson and Cameron.
“It gives either Marc or Geoff a wonderful opportunity of coming into the middle alongside Ryan this weekend,” Pulis said.
“Ideally, we would have liked to have Robert available because he is a fantastic player, but we do have other options, both of whom have played internationally.
“We could move Marc in there and bring Wilko back in to the side, or we can drop Geoff straight into the middle because he has played in that position for the United States, as well as Houston, on a number of occasions.”
He added: “I will take a look at one or two things over the next 24 hours and then decide which option we feel will work best for us in this game.”
Meanwhile, Steven Nzonzi, who suffered a broken nose at Craven Cottage last weekend, is expected to be available for Saturday’s encounter thanks to a flying visit to a London-based specialist.
“It was a real nasty break, and in many ways we are lucky because we initially thought that he had cracked his cheekbone too,” City’s boss revealed.
“Touch wood, he will be okay on Saturday though, because he has been down to London this week and had a face guard fitted.
“We have had one or two instances like this over the past couple of years, with Crouchy not so long ago too, so we know who the best person to send the lads down to now.”
Pulis also revealed that late decisions would be made on the fitness of both Matthew Etherington and Michael Owen – neither of whom have fully trained in the build-up to the game.
“It was hugely disappointing to lose Matty at Fulham, because he has been flying recently, and on his day there are few players as good as him in that position.
“He hasn’t trained properly this week, so we will have a look at him; but hopefully he will be okay.”
He added: Michael is in a similar position to Matty, and we won’t take a view on him until Friday or Saturday. We will leave it until the last minute with the pair of them.”