Shawcross in line for Stoke return at West Brom
Ryan Shawcross is in line to make his return from a six-week injury lay-off when Stoke City visit West Brom on Saturday.
The centre-back has not played a Premier League match since a persistent back problem flared up during Stoke's 3-1 victory over QPR on January 31.
However, Shawcross has stepped up his recovery and, with Philipp Wollscheid a doubt for the trip to The Hawthorns, manager Mark Hughes is contemplating throwing his captain in from the start.
"Ryan has joined in with the rest of the group for the best part of the week and he has come through it okay," he said.
"Obviously there is still another session in front of us, and as long as he suffers no affects from that then he will certainly be in my thoughts.
"We have a doubt over Philipp Wollscheid anyway so having Ryan available could help us in that regard."
The match against West Brom sees Stoke reunited with former boss Tony Pulis, who guided the club to the Premier League in the 2007-08 season in his second spell as manager and was a popular figure at the Britannia Stadium during a seven-year stay.
Hughes, though, believes that Stoke are a more rounded team under his stewardship.
"The way we have progressed since I got the job has been quite exceptional and the players deserve credit for the way they have embraced the new style," he added.
"We have a lot more possession based game now and we control games. As a consequence of that we are a more accomplished team in my opinion."