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Saturday 22 October 2016

Jermain Defoe could be fit to face Stoke

Published 27/11/2015 | 15:51

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Striker Jermain Defoe could be fit for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Stoke despite limping out of Monday night's win at Crystal Palace.

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Defoe, whose goal was enough to secure a 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park, is battling to make the squad after the ankle injury he suffered in the game proved to be less serious than was first feared, and he could be joined by Fabio Borini, who missed out at Palace, also with an ankle problem.

However, defender Billy Jones is suspended following his fifth booking of the season on Monday, while midfielder Liam Bridcutt has joined Sky Bet Championship Leeds on loan.

Boss Sam Allardyce has challenged rising star Duncan Watmore to earn his Masters degree on the pitch after graduating with honours off it.

The 21-year-old striker, who was awarded a first-class honours degree in Economics and Business Management earlier this year, was handed a first senior start for the Black Cats against Southampton in the Premier League on November 7 and has made a series of eye-catching contributions as a substitute in recent weeks.

Allardyce admits that Watmore, who was released by Manchester United as a youngster and rebuilt his career in non-league football with Altrincham as he combined football with his studies, still has a lot to learn, but is hopeful there is more to come.

The 61-year-old, who visibly shuddered at team-mate Defoe's comparison with a young Gareth Bale earlier this week, said: "He's obviously just starting his resurrection, if you like.

"He's been a footballer at Manchester United; he got released. He went to Altrincham, did his degree and Sunderland picked him up, and his whole academic and football education has blossomed, so he is back in the Premier League.

"He's finished his degree, so he doesn't have to worry too much about studying, and now he can focus on his football 100 per cent trying to achieve a Masters degree in the Premier League because if you play in the Premier League, it equates to a Masters degree in terms of academic qualification.

"You play in the Premier League because of your football intelligence more than anything else."

Watmore, who has made seven appearances so far this season - all but one of them as a substitute - and scored two goals, will hope for further involvement when in-form Stoke head for the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Stoke defender Philipp Wollscheid is a doubt with a sore pelvis.

Marc Muniesa has overcome his hamstring injury and could come into the starting XI should the German be ruled out.

Midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri is fit despite coming off in the win over Southampton because of a hamstring problem but veteran goalkeeper Shay Given is out with a long-term knee injury.

Press Association

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