Stoke City will be without captain Ryan Shawcross for the visit of his former club Manchester United this weekend after the centre-back suffered a back injury in training. The 29-year-old, who agreed a new contract last month, has tweaked ligaments in the area. The fitness concern is not linked to the back problems the England defender has previously suffered from.
Shawcross has not missed a Premier League game for the Potters since last December, playing every minute of the last 26 games including the first three matches of this term. Mark Hughes' side have picked up four points so far this season thanks to victory over Arsenal and a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion.
Kevin Wimmer moved to the bet365 Stadium with two days of the transfer window remaining and he could be in line to make his Stoke debut against United as part of a back-three including Bruno Martins-Indi and Chelsea loanee Kurt Zouma. Striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is also a doubt after picking up a hamstring injury in Cameroon's World Cup qualifying defeat to Nigeria.
"Unfortunately Ryan Shawcross has pulled up in training and is likely to miss certainly the weekend, hopefully it won't be any longer," said Hughes, according to the Stoke Sentinel. "He's got an issue with his back. It's not what he's had before in terms of disc injuries, it's ligaments around the back and we have to wait for him to settle down.
"It's unfortunate because he's started the season really well and signing the contract was important for him and us. It dragged on a little bit because these things can but we got there in the end. We were always confident the deal would be signed. It's good news but a shame he's injured. He's going to be here for a long time and that's the key.
"We had a few issues coming out of international break. Choupo-Moting came off in his first game with a hamstring, we checked yesterday and we're hopeful but there's a little bit of doubt. A number of the others came back with little niggles but they won't be the type of injury to stop players playing."
Despite having avoided defeat to United in each of the last four meetings at home, Stoke will welcome the in-form team in the Premier League on Saturday (9 September) teatime with Jose Mourinho's side having won each of their first three games without conceding a goal. The Old Trafford club are the division's early pacesetters but Hughes is hopeful of staging another shock, having beaten Arsenal last month.
"Of all the teams they are clearly at the top of the pile," he added. "Their performances and the way they've gone about their business has been impressive. We had similar situation last year with Manchester City, who were not able to sustain it.
"But the make up of the Manchester United squad is very strong and they're playing in a way that their fans will take to and enjoy. They expect teams to attack with power and pace and ability. It's very early days. Hopefully there are still things for us to exploit. These games are huge for us and we always enjoy them. We hope we can get a similar result that we did against Arsenal."