Stoke's Hughes hopeful on fitness of Walters

After leaving Jonathan Walters out in midweek, Stoke City are hopeful of having the forward available for Saturday's FA Cup fifth round meeting with Blackburn Rovers.

The Republic of Ireland international missed Wednesday's 4-1 Premier League defeat at the hands of Manchester City with a minor problem.

And with a quarter-final place on offer should Stoke triumph at Ewood Park, manager Mark Hughes hopes Walters - who has 10 goals in all competitions this season - will be able to make the trip.

"Jon Walters is the only one who realistically looks like he could be okay," he said in a press conference on Friday.

"We left him out on Wednesday with the sole purpose of hopefully having him available on Saturday. He has a little problem which we have got to manage correctly, and that is what we have been doing with him. 

"He hasn't trained this week, but we will see how he is today. Erik Pieters has trained this week, but again he has been out for a month so we have to decide what we feel is best for him as we don't want to compromise him. 

"The likes of Ryan [Shawcross], Marc [Wilson] and Stephen Ireland could all return for Aston Villa next weekend."

Hughes also provided an update on the progress of Bojan Krkic, who ruptured the cruciate ligament in his left knee in the fourth-round win over Rochdale and will miss the remainder of the season.

"He had an operation earlier this week which is great news for him, and of course for us," Hughes said. "He has a rehabilitation programme to go through now."