Rochdale v Stoke City: Shawcross in race to be fit for cup clash
Stoke City will make a late decision on the fitness of captain Ryan Shawcross ahead of their FA Cup fourth-round trip to Rochdale.
The centre-back missed a Stoke match for the first time this season when a groin problem forced him to sit out last weekend's 1-0 win over Premier League strugglers Leicester City.
Shawcross was hard at work with Stoke's medical team during the club's warm-weather training break in Dubai this week and manager Mark Hughes will continue to assess his skipper ahead of the Spotland clash.
"Ryan didn't train with the group out in Dubai because of the injury so we will have to see how he is over the next day or two," Hughes told a pre-match press conference.
"He put a good amount of work in with the physios out there, and that has benefited him I would suggest.
"Ryan wants to play every minute of every game, whether it be the cup or the league, so he will be doing everything he can to play on Monday."
Forward Jonathan Walters is Stoke's only other significant injury concern after suffering a jarred back in training, meaning there is scope for Hughes to rotate and hand rare starts to squad players such as goalkeeper Jack Butland and midfielders Steve Sidwell, Charlie Adam and Stephen Ireland.
A late brace from Ireland helped secure a 3-1 win over Wrexham in the previous round, with the Conference outfit coming within 10 minutes of taking a famous cup scalp.
"We will make changes, but it will still be a very strong side. I take these competitions incredibly seriously and I think that has been evident by the teams I have put out in previous fixtures," said Hughes, who will be without Mame Biram Diouf due to his international commitments with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations.
"There were a number of changes made to the team against Wrexham in the last round, but even so there were 10 full internationals in the starting XI."
Peter Vincenti scored the winner from the penalty spot as Rochdale accounted for Nottingham Forest with a 1-0 win in round three.
The 28-year-old has 12 goals in 23 appearances this season but could be absent against Stoke due to a knee injury.
Rochdale fans pitched in to help the club clear snow from the Spotland playing surface this week ahead of the eagerly anticipated tie, and manager Keith Hill is looking forward to them playing their part in what could be a memorable occasion.
"There will be a full house at Spotland for a night game and that always generates a really good atmosphere," Hill is quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News.
"The television cameras are there, we'll have a national audience watching us and so hopefully we can give a good representation of ourselves and the way we play football.
"These are the games we've worked so hard for, the opportunity to test yourself against the best. It's an exciting FA Cup tie and we're going all out to cause an upset."