Double injury boost for Stoke City boss O’Neill
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused havoc for most clubs in the EFL. However, for some there has been positives – extra time for injury recovery. That is certainly the case for Stoke City. Michael O’Neill has been speaking to Stoke City+ (subscription required) about the recovery of Joe Allen and Thibaud Verlinden.
Allen was injured in the final game that was played before the season was halted. The Welshman went down just before half-time and had to be stretchered off, later being announced he had damaged his Achilles tendon. Despite the game ending 5-1 to Stoke City, fans were concerned as Allen would be such a big loss.
In 34 games this season he averaged 2.4 tackles per game and makes 0.9 interceptions per game. He averages around 35 passes per game at a success rate of 82.4%. The midfielder also knows where the goal is, scoring four times this season – which isn’t bad considering he is a defensive midfielder. It is clear the impact Allen has in the Stoke City side, he is an experienced head that perhaps ensured things haven’t been a lot worse for Stoke, who currently sit 17th in the league.
Allen is approaching the three-month mark in his recovery and Michael O’Neill has provided an update, “Joe is walking, which is good. On the first day I saw him he was walking with the aid of crutches and now he’s walking without crutches. It’s a slow process for Joe, really. It’s just getting moving again. He’s been in a boot for a long time, which means muscle wastage which builds up over time. But it’s nice to see him again at the training ground.” It is very unlikely Allen will feature in the remaining of the nine games to play in the Championship, but a probable delay to the start of the 2020/21 season should see Allen ready fighting fit.
Verlinden is also recovering well. The winger spent the first half of the season out on loan at League One side, Bolton Wanderers. During his loan spell he scored three and bagged two assists, not a terrible return. He returned to Stoke in January and went on to make a handful of substitute appearances. In February he suffered a knee injury after coming on as a substitute in the 2-0 home defeat against Preston. Like Allen, Verlinden is also progressing well. “His knee has healed well, the scar. He’s been running on the AlterG treadmill and the next stage for him is to start running outside, which will be good for him as well,” O’Neill said.
Unlike Allen, Verlinden may feature in the remaining nine games. The youngster, valued at just over £200,000 (TransferMarkt) still has two-years left on his current deal and will be hoping he can use this nine games as a chance to prove he his worth keeping in the first team set up for next season.
Stats taken from WhoScored