Michael O’Neill cut an almost funereal figure despite a thumping and crucial win for Stoke City – as Joe Allen was consigned to months on the sidelines.
Stoke rose to 17th in the Championship – their highest position of the season so far – thanks to a 5-1 thrashing of Hull, with two goals apiece from Nick Powell and Sam Clucas plus a Tyrese Campbell penalty.
But Allen ruptured an Achilles on the stroke of half-time and will undergo surgery imminently. The 29-year-old will miss the rest of the season and Euro 2020 with Wales.
O’Neill said: “I think it was possibly how he got up. I saw him go down and thought he’d maybe got a knock on the top of his foot. It quickly became apparent it was more than that.
“It’s devastating for us and devastating for the boy. Not only will he miss the rest of the season but obviously Euro 2020 as well.”
The EFL will be in attendance for the meeting between football’s governing bodies, sports broadcasters and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in London on Monday regarding coronavirus, it has been confirmed.
The outcome of the meeting could have an impact on Stoke City and their Sky Bet Championship rivals.
Two people in the UK have died from the virus and the number of confirmed cases jumped to 273 on Sunday, with an increase of 64 representing the biggest single-day increase so far.
In Italy, Serie A matches have been ordered to be played behind closed doors and 16 million people in the northern section of the country has been quarantined, in a bid to quell Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak.
Neil Warnock has praised Michael O’Neill for the way he has “galvanised” Stoke City.
The Northern Irishman replaced Nathan Jones at the bet365 Stadium in November, with the club languishing at the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table.
O’Neill has since pulled the Potters out of the bottom three, and Saturday’s 5-1 thumping of Hull City saw them climb to 17th in the standings.
It means Stoke have been beaten just once in their last nine games at home, and former Cardiff City boss Warnock highlighted the importance of keeping the bet365 as a fortress.
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Sam Clucas admits it’s high time he got his head down – or rather up – and scored more goals for Stoke with his forehead.
His second, and Stoke’s fourth against Hull , was a firm header that also saw him hit double figures for the season.
“I’ve not scored a header for a couple of years, I think, which is poor really because I’m over six foot,” Clucas acknowledged.
“But the main thing was to get on the scoresheet, which is always nice, and to help the team,
“It was a much-needed win and I’ve said it in previous interviews that it’s been coming.”