Skipper closing on return

Stoke are hopeful Ryan Shawcross will be back in full training next week with a view to facing Aston Villa in the Premier League.

Stoke: Skipper closing on returnStoke: Skipper closing on return

Shawcross has been on the sidelines after suffering another back injury at the end of January, but he is with the rest of the squad in Dubai as he steps up his return to fitness.

The Potters skipper is training on his own, but assistant boss Mark Bowen says he should be back with the rest of the group next week as they prepare to face Villa.

“Ryan hasn’t joined in with the group yet,” said Bowen. “He’s just started line running and is working himself to a standstill.

“The ideal scenario is to get him home next week and ready to join in with the other lads, then he has the best part of a week to see if he can make the Villa game.”

Meanwhile, Stoke are also hoping Phil Bardsley will be able to face Villa if he overcomes the dead leg that sidelined him at Bournemouth.

“He got a knee in the side the day before the Bournemouth game and the pain was that bad it felt like he’d broken his leg,” Bowen added. “But we are hoping he will be ok.”

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