TONY PULIS has hinted that Robert Huth will return to the starting eleven for Saturday's Barclays Premier League encounter against Everton . . . but stopped short of confirming him as a definite starter.
The German international has missed the Potters' last three league games having served a retrospective suspension for an off the ball incident with Phillipe Senderos during the 1-0 defeat at Fulham last month.
The City boss acknowledged that he is delighted to have the powerful defender available to him again, citing his partnership with skipper Ryan Shawcross at the back as key to the Club's fortunes in recent seasons.
"He is a fantastic player, and is a hugely influential figure here for us," Pulis said. "He has a fantastic partnership with Ryan, and the two of them have been brilliant for us over the last few years.
"It's great to have him available again because we have missed his presence on the pitch in the last few games."
A late check will be made on several first-team stars who have been away on international duty over the past ten days, including American defender Geoff Cameron and Trinidadian star Kenwyne Jones.
"It's one of those weeks where you find yourself glued to the television, watching and praying that the lads who are away all come through the games unscathed," he added.
"We had nine or ten of them away, including two who were playing in Mexico City just 36 hours ago. It is tough and it is hard for them to go away and play and then travel back.
"Geoff (Cameron) and Brek (Shea) have had long trips, as has Kenwyne Jones, who still hasn't turned up here yet. Hopefully they are all ok, and we will make a decision on them on Friday."
Andy Wilkinson or Ryan Shotton would be the likely deputy for Cameron should Pulis feel the need to change things around in defence, whilst Marc Wilson is expected to revert back to his more natural left back
position to pave the way for Huth's return.
Jonathan Walters and Glenn Whelan are both expected to feature in the side following their midweek exploits for the Republic of Ireland.