James McClean might not make it in time for Stoke City ‘s crunch Championship match against Hull City this weekend – but he is hoping to be in contention for the following week’s trip to Reading.
McClean has missed four matches since limping out of Stoke’s home defeat to Preston on February 12, having damaged the medial ligaments in his left knee.
Doctors predicted a six-week recovery period – which would also leave him touch and go to be fit for Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia. The squad is named next week.
But the 30-year-old, who considers himself a quick healer, has tried everything to speed up the process. Even on a trip to Dubai for rest and recuperation he was doing one-legged work outs with a physical trainer.
And Ireland boss Mick McCarthy said: “James is telling me he might be too soon for Saturday but he’s hoping for next week.
“I’ve no worries about his fitness, he’s the fittest guy in the team.”
It was a triple blow for Stoke that night against Preston because, as well as losing, Thibaud Verlinden – who would have been in line for his first regular run on the left wing – was also injured. He is out for the season with knee ligament damage.
Jordan Thompson filled the void in the first game, a 4-2 defeat at Queens Park Rangers, but Michael O’Neill has since shuffled his line-up and used Nick Powell as the widest player on the left.
Thompson and then, on Saturday at Luton, Jordan Cousins, have been used in a holding midfield role.