Stoke have 'fingers crossed' over Etherington injury, says Pulis

The Potters' boss is hopeful the 31-year-old winger can return as quickly as possible following back and groin injuries, while Brek Shea is another concern ahead of the weekend
Stoke City manager Tony Pulis hopes Matthew Etherington will be fit to face Aston Villa this weekend as the winger recovers from back and groin injuries.

The former Tottenham man made the move to Staffordshire from West Ham four years ago, establishing himself as a regular in the side and even pushing for an international call-up.

And although the 31-year-old was forced to sit out last week's defeat against Everton due to lack of fitness, manager Pulis is hopeful he will return to the fold when the Potters host Villa in a key relegation contest.

“Matty is a little bit of a problem for us that we hope is resolved by tomorrow, fingers crossed," Pulis told the club's official website.

4/1 Matthew Etherington is 4/1 with bet365 to score anytime against Aston Villa
“But whoever is fit will really go out there and give it a go.

“It’s a big test, not just for the players but the supporters and everyone else. We stick together and show what we are – and that’s a club that when called upon stands together.”

Meanwhile, USA international Brek Shea is another concern ahead of the clash, but Pulis insists a more cautious approach must be taken during the 23-year-old's recovery.

“We knew that when we signed him," he added.

"He had an operation on his foot behind one of his toes which is still a little bit sore. The ground being so hard hasn’t helped him and I think he has found that a little bit difficult.

“He has trained well today but we’ve got to look after the kid. He hasn’t done a full season, he was out for six or seven months, so he needs a bit of time.”