Stoke v Aston Villa preview

Stoke boss Mark Hughes could be without both of his first-choice central defenders for Saturday's Premier League clash with Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium.

Last Updated: 21/12/13 at 09:47

Stephen Ireland: Unable to play against parent club Aston Villa

Stephen Ireland: Unable to play against parent club Aston Villa

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Robert Huth is definitely missing through injury for the Potters, while a decision will be left on Ryan Shawcross until as late as possible after he picked up a groin strain in the midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Manchester United.

On-loan midfielder Stephen Ireland cannot play against his parent club and while Paul Lambert may not have fancied keeping the Republic of Ireland international at Villa Park, he will be glad to see him sidelined considering his recent purple patch.

Meanwhile, Villa boss Lambert will be without striker Gabriel Agbonlahor after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, meaning he is subsequently suspending from Saturday's clash.

There is a boost for Lambert however, in the form of Fabian Delph, who returns to action after completing his ban for the very same reason Agbonlahor must now sit out.

Gary Gardner returned to first-team involvement this week having recovered from a back complaint and fellow midfielder Chris Herd should be fit to play after a facial injury.

Villa captain Ron Vlaar remains a major doubt with a calf injury, while it remains to be seen whether striker Christian Benteke - now without a goal in his last 10 Villa appearances - can keep his place in the starting line-up.

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