Skipper Ryan Shawcross has NOT been ruled out completely from tomorrow’s clash with Middlesbrough at a deserted bet365.
But his chances of making the fixture – after tweaking a groin at Reading last Saturday – would appear to remain slender despite his return to the training pitch at the back end of this week.
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“We will just have to be careful with it and give it as late as possible before we make a decision.”
The odds would appear to be stacked in favour of Danny Batth lining up alongside James Chester in central defence tomorrow after stepping off the bench to replace the stricken Shawcross last week.
Midfielder Jordan Cousins missed the 1-1 draw at Reading with a knock, but could be back in contention tomorrow.
“Jordan trained yesterday and today,” said O’Neill, “so that’s a positive, and we have to see how he reacts having trained the two days as well.”
Elsewhere, O’Neill will have decisions to make on the likes of Tommy Smith, James McClean and Sam Vokes after they impressed from the bench last Saturday as Stoke grabbed a 92nd minute equaliser.