Stoke captain Shawcross to return against Liverpool


Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross is set to return to action for his team's Premier League game against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

Manager Mark Hughes confirmed that the defender, who has only made one league appearance since January, has made progress which has been better than expected over the last week as he battles a persistent back injury.

The return of Shawcross will be a huge boost for Stoke as they sit in eighth position with six games to go and chase a European place.

"He has had a good week," Hughes said of his 28-year-old skipper. "It is about whether he can cope with the work that we give him and he has come through all of that this week. 

"He is available for Sunday. I spoke earlier in the week about maybe needing to give him a reserve team game, but given how he has progressed I don't think there is a need for that. He is certainly in my thoughts for the game."

However, Hughes did reveal key forward Marko Arnautovic was unlikely to face Jurgen Klopp's men.

"He twisted his knee last weekend during the game," replied Hughes when asked about the Austria international.

"He played on, but afterwards there was a bit of discomfort which is still there. Maybe the game on Sunday will be too soon for him. We hope he is available but we will make a decision closer to kick-off with Marko."

Stoke have only lost one of their last seven league encounters and have seven points from their last three away contests.