Shawcross to miss League Cup semi-final in four-week lay-off


Ryan Shawcross will miss Stoke City's League Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool, having been ruled out for four weeks with another back injury.

Shawcross was withdrawn after just 30 minutes in Stoke's 3-0 defeat at Leicester City on Saturday amid concerns he had aggravated the same issue which required surgery last year.

Manager Mark Hughes ruled out a return of the initial problem, but expects the centre-back to be absent for up to a month.

"Thankfully Ryan's injury isn't a recurrence of the problem he had last year, but unfortunately he has some muscle damage and at the moment it looks likely that he will be out for three to four weeks, which is hard for us to take," said Hughes.

"Losing him was detrimental to our performance at the weekend. We will miss him.

"Marc Wilson came in at the weekend and Marc Muniesa just missed out. It is about making sure the partnership is strong, because that will be key to the game. 

"I will think about it and make the decision which I hope enables us to win the tie."

Hughes confirmed Geoff Cameron remains unavailable for selection but said Marko Arnautovic - suffering from an ongoing hamstring problem - and Bojan, rested during Saturday's trip to the King Power Stadium, should be fit to feature.

Regardless of his team selection, the Welshman expects his players to fight for a place in February's final at Wembley.

"We are going to really push for it tomorrow - we will have a big following and we want to win the tie," added Hughes.

"You always remember cup finals and semi-finals because of the excitement and the atmosphere, and we want to make tomorrow a night to remember. We want to try and win a trophy moving forward.

"It's important I feel to compete in the latter stages of these type of competitions and to do well in the league, which we are doing. 

"Hopefully come 10pm tomorrow night we will be in the final of this competition for the first time in 40-odd years, and I will be reminding the players of that before kick-off."