Freak injury could end Whelan's perfect record
Glenn Whelan's chances of playing in every Stoke Premier League game this season are in jeopardy after he suffered a freakish back injury while getting out of his car.
The Ireland midfielder has been an ever-present for Mark Hughes' side in the top flight but he's a doubt for their Sunday date with Liverpool at Anfield following an unusual mishap.
"He did it, very simply, getting out of his car," explained Stoke assistant manager Mark Bowen. "People who've had bad backs will tell you how it can happen. He didn't do anything untoward; he just got out of the car and felt something crack in his back. That was it.
"At times, I think Glenn will forgive me for saying, he will put himself forward when he's only 70pc fit because he's so desperate to play and desperate to help out and lead the team out. We will monitor him very closely."
Bowen also reported that Marc Wilson is 'not far away' from joining the rest of the group as he battles back from a knee injury that has halted his campaign.
His place in Martin O'Neill's Euros squad is not assured and the same applies to Shay Given, who played for the Stoke U-21 side earlier this week but appears to have more work to do to convince management he can figure for the first team.
"Marc is desperate, the same as Shay Given, to get himself fit and play a few games before the season finishes so he is ready for the Irish campaign," said Bowen.
"He's not joined in with the lads yet. He's been doing a lot of work with the physios, straight line running and changing direction. It's positive news that he's looking to get involved soon.
"In the three years we've been here he's been an integral part of what we've done. He's a fantastic professional who trains to the best of his ability and you miss him when he's not around."
O'Neill's side have dropped two places to 31st in the latest set of FIFA rankings. Northern Ireland have jumped up to 26th, their highest ever position.
Argentina have taken over top spot from Ireland's Euros opponents Belgium. England are 10th with Wales falling to 24th and Scotland in 40th.
At home tonight, St Patrick's Athletic defender Ian Bermingham is determined to prove that their 4-0 thrashing by Dundalk was not a reflection of their ability. The Saints host Sligo tonight in their first game since that drubbing after last week's trip to Finn Harps was called off.
"It didn't really reflect how the game went," says Bermingham. "We got hit by a sucker-punch at the start, and then between a few mistakes from ourselves and some good finishing by them, I felt we performed much better than the scoreline suggested."