Ryan Shawcross: Stoke captain faces two-week lay-off

Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross
Shawcross signed a new five-a-half-year contract in January 2013

Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross will be out for "a couple of weeks" because of a back injury.

The 27-year-old defender had to leave the field in the first half of last weekend's 3-1 home victory over QPR.

"Unfortunately Ryan will be missing now for a couple of weeks," Potters boss Mark Hughes said. "He's just got an issue with the disc in his back.

"We have other players capable of filling in though, so it is a chance for them to come in and make a mark."

Stoke, 10th in the table, travel to Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday, before hosting Manchester City on 11 February.

Three days later the Potters are away to Blackburn in the FA Cup fifth round with a league visit to Aston Villa on 21 February.

Hughes on midfielder Stephen Ireland

"I've got a lot of time for Stephen. I think he's an exceptional football player. He's been unlucky this year.

"In pre-season, he was our most impressive performer but he went out of the team through injury and then found it a struggle to get back in and had one or two niggles.

"He just needs a good run at it now and obviously without Bojan Krkic in there, then he has that opportunity."

Hughes on facing Newcastle

"It's never easy going to Newcastle on the road as we found to our cost last year. We just hope the referee doesn't come and play a part as he seemed to last year.

"But we're playing well at the moment and we're enjoying going on the road so we'll see what happens."

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