Ireland striker Jon Walters could make his return for Stoke against Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium today.
Walters could return for the first time since having a knee operation. Boss Mark Hughes will be glad to have him back and is expecting an improvement from his side.
“I’m not one to hide behind injuries but the reality is that we haven’t been at our best form because maybe key individuals aren’t available and we’ve had to make changes within games. That affects continuity,” said Hughes.
There is bad news for Shay Given, who is sidelined with a groin problem that forced him off at Manchester City.
Meanwhile Rafael Benitez has refused to be drawn into a psychological battle with Sunderland counterpart Sam Allardyce as the battle for survival heats up.
Allardyce has suggested the Magpies’ opponents today, Crystal Palace, will have their minds on other things after reaching the FA Cup final.
However, Benitez is concentrating only on the task of securing another three points to keep Newcastle’s desperate survival bid alive. He said: “I don’t think (Allardyce’s comments) will make a lot of difference, especially when you have a lot of foreign players.
“Sometimes it is the way of some managers, but it does not change too much the way I approach the game. My job is to concentrate on my team.”
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