Stoke City have been dealt a huge blow this week with the news that Glenn Whelan has suffered a fracture to his leg while on international duty, and it could spell disaster for the Potters top-10 aspirations.
Scans revealed that the injury the midfielder picked up against Germany two weeks ago was indeed a slight break to his left leg, and he looks set for a spell on the sidelines of around six weeks.
Whelan has been the consistent lynchpin of the Stoke midfield for the last few seasons, providing a service in a tough tackling holding role, and his absence could mean more than just a tactical reshuffle.
The Irishman’s presence has been vital to his side’s relative success, with the Staffordshire side struggling when he has been out.
They may have picked up a controversial victory with Victor Moses ‘winning’ a late penalty against Swansea last week, with Whelan unavailable, but looking back over the last two seasons, it is clear they are a weaker side without him.
The 30-year-old has, in total, not started 14 games in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, Stoke winning just two of them, with a further four draws. That signals a loss in 57% of matches that he has been absent for.
Comparing that to when he has been in the starting XI, with the Potters securing 20 wins and 22 draws from 62 matches, meaning a loss of just 32% of matches, the importance of the former Sheffield Wednesday man in the centre of the park is crystal clear.
The games he is set to miss are tough ones as well with ties against Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham upcoming in the next six weeks.
Whelan actually missed one of the matches against Spurs in each of the last two seasons, both resulting in defeats in both.
The likes of Geoff Cameron or Steve Sidwell may yet be able to step up to the plate and fill the void, but if Mark Hughes’ side are to be challenging for at top-half, for which they are priced up at 15/8, come the end of the season, Whelan needs to get back soon.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing
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