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Ireland 'out for weeks'

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has encountered the first injury setback of the new season for his squad, with midfielder Stephen Ireland having sustained a chest problem in training.

Hughes had a full group to select from for the Potters' Premier League campaign-opening clash with Aston Villa last weekend, which they lost 1-0 at home.

But he will be without Ireland when his side take on Hull at the KC Stadium tomorrow, after the Irishman pulled a muscle in his rib cage which is set to keep him sidelined for "a couple of weeks at least".

Hughes said ahead of the Hull fixture: "We have a problem with Stephen Ireland unfortunately, who has pulled a muscle in his rib cage.

"It's a disappointment to us because he is a good player and somebody we would prefer to have available to us.

"It looks like he will be out for a couple of weeks at least, or until the pain has gone to allow him to move around the pitch comfortably."

However, Hughes is confident that Robert Huth will be available, despite the German defender feeling a slight twinge in his knee while he was over-stretching.