Stoke City sweat over the fitness of key wide man ahead of Sheffield Wednesday tussle
Winger James McClean is a major injury concern for Stoke City ahead of their Boxing Day encounter with third-placed Sheffield Wednesday.
The Republic of Ireland international suffered a hamstring injury in Friday's defeat to relegation rivals Middlesbrough.
As well as McClean, the Potters are also sweating over the fitness of Stephen Ward.
“Stephen got a knock on the back and stiffened up quite badly," said manager Michael O'Neill.
"And James had a tight hamstring, so we just have to see how he is in the lead up to the game.
“James, of the two, is obviously the more likely one to miss out.”
Midfield pair Ryan Woods and Peter Etebo are pushing to return, having missed the trip to the Riverside through illness, while skipper Ryan Shawcross is back in training.
The Potters are currently two points adrift of safety after winning just one of their last six matches.
O'Neill said: "Teams get in little runs of form at different times and Sheffield Wednesday are one of those teams, but I think the games against teams around you are equally difficult.
"We have to get our own house in order and our confidence up.
"We are in a situation where we literally have to take every game as it comes."
Despite their precarious predicament, O'Neill remains confident he can keep the Potters up.
“There’s enough in terms of quality, but what we have tried to do is put players with the right attitude and desire on to the pitch,” said O’Neill.