Last Updated: Thu, 04 Apr 2013 10:12
Stoke are hopeful that winger Matthew Etherington will be fit to return from a back problem ahead of Saturday's visit of Aston Villa.
Potters assistant boss Dave Kemp confirmed the player pulled up with a back strain in training which resulted in him missing last Saturday's 1-0 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park.
However, Etherington has improved this week and Kemp is hoping he will be available to make his 350th league start in what is being billed as a relegation six-pointer against third-bottom Villa, who are four points behind the Potters.
Speaking of Etherington's chances of featuring and his importance to the team, Kemp told the Sentinel: "Matty's been great for us ever since he signed along with James Beattie in that first season we were in the Premier League.
"Both were very important signings for us. James Beattie has moved on, but Matty's stayed and become a really important part of our team. We miss him when he's not playing.
"He was training okay before the Everton game, but then pulled up with a strain.
"It's related to his back and we have to manage the problem until the end of the season, when he will be able to rest and be 100 per cent recovered."
Have you an opinion on this story? Put your money where your mouth is and claim a free £25 bet.