Etherington firm over fitness
Matthew Etherington is adamant he was fit enough to start Stoke's FA Cup final, despite failing to find form.
Last Updated: 16/05/11 1:40pm
Matthew Etherington is adamant he was fit enough to start Stoke's FA Cup final defeat to Manchester City, despite failing to find his top form.
The winger had been a serious doubt for the Wembley showdown after tearing his hamstring, and admitted after the 1-0 defeat on Saturday that he had not trained in the week leading up to the clash.
He passed a late fitness test before kick-off but was substituted for Dean Whitehead early in the second half after failing to make an impact.
"I was fit enough to play," Etherington told The Sentinel. "I was 78 per cent fit, but I wanted to go out there and give it everything I'd got."
Etherington admits City's performance in the opening 45 minutes threw Stoke off their stride before Yaya Toure eventually grabbed the winner in a more evenly-matched second half.
"We weren't good enough in the end and Manchester City played very well," he added.
"They were too good in the first 45 minutes and they should have gone in at half-time ahead.
"But we came in level, thinking we still had every chance.
"And we came into the game in the second half up until they scored. It could have gone either way at that stage. We were creating more chances before they scored."
The winger was full of praise for Stoke's travelling fans, adding: "It wasn't to be, but our fans were first-class - as they have been all season.
"The way they have supported this team is second to none. I'm just disappointed we couldn't give them a great day out."