Stoke have suffered a setback on the injury front after it was revealed Ibrahim Afellay will not return until the end of the year.
The Dutchman has been on the sidelines since damaging knee ligaments in training back in April and hopes of a speedy return have been dashed by assistant boss Mark Bowen.
In fact, the winger is facing at least another three months on the treatment table and there is a chance Stephen Ireland, who is battling back from a double leg fracture, could return before him.
“Ibrahim had complications after his first operation and from what I’m aware he will be a while longer than Steve,” Bowen revealed. “It might be December until we see him.
“He’s been having treatment back home in Holland and we haven’t seen a lot of him.
“Stephen seems to be coming on. He had a scan the other day which told him the bone was knitting together fine. He’s been doing a hell of a lot of work.
“Steve is a bit of a workaholic and he’s been doing a lot of work in the gym on his upper body strength and on the bike.
“He’s trying to bridge the gap that when the powers-that-be tell him he can get on the grass and start training with us, he won’t have a lot of catching up.”