John Obi Mikel and Sam Clucas are set to follow Joe Allen back to fitness – and all three could be in contention for the mid-week clash with Nottingham Forest.
Allen made his comeback in today’s 0-0 away draw with Coventry City after nine months out with an Achilles injury. The 30-year-old midfielder played the final half hour in a major boost for a Stoke side which harbours ambitions of breaking into the Championship top six.
Mikel and Clucas are on the comeback trail too.
Mikel has been on the sidelines with calf and groin trouble since limping out of a goalless draw at Sheffield Wednesday last month while Clucas was caught on the foot by Sam Morsy in a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on December 5.
O’Neill said: “Great to see Joe back. It was really good to get him on the pitch. Straight away he showed his composure and what he’ll bring to the team.
“He’s been through an awful lot and when you see a player work as hard as Joe has and get back, it’s nice to see him finally back on the pitch.
“We’ve had to hold him back a little bit but today was a real positive for the group – and John Obi and Sam Clucas are both in contention for Tuesday (against Nottingham Forest) too and, if not Tuesday, then Saturday (against Bournemouth).”
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He added: “John Obi came back and had a little bit of a groin issue which was different to the calf. We’ve had to set him off it for a few days.
“He’s trained well in recent days with the fitness team so we’ll introduce him to the group tomorrow and see if he’s ready or not for Tuesday.”