Stoke stars in fitness battle
Stoke boss Tony Pulis is sweating on the fitness of Ricardo Fuller, Rory Delap and Salif Diao.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 04/11/10 1:20pm
Stoke boss Tony Pulis is sweating on the fitness of Ricardo Fuller, Rory Delap and Salif Diao ahead of Saturday's trip to Sunderland.
Fuller is still struggling with the shoulder he dislocated as a second-half substitute at Bolton three weeks ago.
The Potters went on to lose that game 2-1 and have gone on suffer further defeats in the following three games in Fuller's absence.
The Stadium of Light visit is the first of three games in quick succession, with Stoke hosting Birmingham on Tuesday and Liverpool next weekend, so Pulis is eager to have his Jamaican striker available.
"We'll know more about Ric by the weekend," he told The Sentinel.
"He trained on Tuesday, both on his own and for a short while with the rest of us. It's just a case of seeing how the shoulder is sitting."
Thomas Sorensen has overcome an elbow injury in time to challenge Asmir Begovic for a return in goal after missing the last two games.
Delap and Diao, though, are both struggling with calf problems that could leave Pulis short of midfield options.
"Rory hasn't trained so far this week and he's obviously a concern for us, but he is usually a good healer," added the Stoke manager.
"Salif has been having treatment for something similar and we're certainly hoping he'll be all right for the coming seven days when we've got three games."
Neither Fuller, Delap nor Diao were considered for this week's 3-2 defeat by Kidderminster in a behind-closed-doors friendly, which Pulis felt was a useful exercise.
"It was a good, solid work-out for the players involved," he added.
"What people perhaps don't realise is that those lads playing have done a lot of hard work in training during the morning as well.
"That's because these games are not about results, but topping up fitness and sharpness."