Shawcross to visit specialist over back woe

Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross could miss the start of the Premier League season after being sent to a specialist for his back injury.

Stoke City are facing an anxious wait for news on the fitness of Ryan Shawcross as he prepares to visit a specialist regarding his ongoing back problem.

The Stoke captain has only featured once during pre-season and appears a major doubt for next weekend's Premier League opener against Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium.

After completing 65 minutes as planned in a friendly against Brentford last month, Shawcross was left out for Stoke's two matches in the Colonia Cup in Germany - which resulted in defeats to hosts Cologne and Porto.

And manager Mark Hughes has now confirmed the 27-year-old defender, who was sidelined for a month last season with an inflamed disc in his back, will be sent for further analysis.

"As we all know, Ryan has got an issue with his back which he is going to get checked out this week," Hughes told Stoke's official website.

"Obviously it isn't resolving itself so he will see a specialist early this week and hopefully we can gain more information following that meeting. 

"He hasn't had too much game time and he has been struggling in training also, so we need to get it sorted once and for all." 

Meanwhile, Hughes expects Marko Arnautovic and Marc Wilson to be ready to face Liverpool despite seeing both limp out of Sunday's 3-0 loss to Porto.