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Aston Villa v Stoke City: Shaqiri in contention for basement battle

Xherdan Shaqiri faces a fitness test to determine his availability as Stoke City prepare to face Aston Villa away from home in the Premier League on Saturday.

Switzerland international Shaqiri was forced off late in Stoke’s 2-1 win at home to AFC Bournemouth last weekend with a thigh problem.

The 23-year-old former Bayern Munich forward, who arrived at the Britannia Stadium for a club-record fee of £12million from Inter in July, could yet be included in the matchday squad to take on Tim Sherwood’s men at Villa Park.

“We will have to see how he is over the coming hours, because he hasn’t trained with the group yet this week,” Stoke manager Mark Hughes told the club’s website on Thursday. 

“He will go home and rest now and hopefully he can come in tomorrow and join in the session with the rest of the lads. 

“If he does that, and suffers no affects from it, then he will certainly be in my thoughts. If not then we won’t take any chances.”

Having Shaqiri available would be a major boost for Stoke as they seek to pick up important points away to fellow strugglers Villa.

Both teams have managed just one win apiece in the league so far this season, leaving Stoke 17th on six points from seven matches played, with Villa two points and one place worse off in the relegation zone.

Sherwood claimed his team’s slow start was to be expected after losing Christian Benteke, Fabian Delph, Tom Cleverley and Ron Vlaar, forcing the Villa boss to replace key men with a clutch of untested recruits.

“We’re not surprised we’re in this position,” he said.

“It comes as a disappointment certainly. I’m not used to losing this many games.

“But we’re working on getting things right on the training ground and that will continue.”

Although Shaqiri could yet feature for Stoke, Marc Wilson remains in doubt with a calf injury and Ryan Shawcross is not expected to return from back surgery until the match away to Swansea City on October 19.

For Villa, Gary Gardner is in contention for selection but will be eased back to full fitness after recovering from a foot problem. 

Adama Traore, having recovered from an ankle knock, could return to first-team duty after playing 60 minutes for the Under-21 team on Monday, but Gabriel Agbonlahor is doubtful due to a calf problem. Jores Okore (knee) is not due back until November. 

Thu 1 Oct, 2015
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