James McClean is not yet ready to help ease Stoke City’s injury problems as Michael O’Neill weighs up how to replace Joe Allen.
Mick McCarthy had suggested last week that McClean was hoping to return to training imminently as he recovers from medial ligament damage.
That would give O’Neill an option to move Nick Powell back inside from the left as he deals with the long-term loss of Allen (ruptured Achilles).
But McClean is not expected to be ready to be in contention for next weekend’s trip to Reading, although Stoke have still been buoyed by the return of Ryan Shawcross (groin), who took a place on the bench on Saturday for the first time in 2020.
O’Neill said: “James is just going to be a little longer than we anticipated so we have to monitor that one.
“But having Ryan back on the bench is definitely a plus. We are blessed with a lot of centre-backs now that are fit and we’re a little bit maybe light in other areas.
“It’s always good to have players back but equally the injury to Joe is one that will damage us, will hurt us, there’s no doubt about that.”
Tashan Oakley-Boothe, Jordan Cousins and Lasse Sorensen are in contention to fill the big hole left by Allen next to Sam Clucas and Jordan Thompson.
Stoke leapt four places in the table thanks to the win over Hull and did their goal difference no harm – but they are still only three points ahead of third-bottom Charlton.
He insists the camp will stay grounded.
“There’s no challenge in that,” he said. “The players aren’t getting carried away, we’re never getting carried away. We have to take care of our own situation.
“The situation is for us to deal with, we can’t control what the other teams do in their games.
“We’re on 42 points. We’re in a good run of form. I think over the piece we’ve done well and got ourselves into position from the bottom of the table to 17th.
“It’s still very, very tight but equally we need to just continue, take each game as it comes. I know that’s very clichéd but it’s true.
“We could lose next weekend and it’s not a disaster. We know in our mind we probably need 50-plus points for safety and we have to try to take the maximum points we can from each game as it comes along.”