Stoke suffer blow as this key man is ruled out this weekend

Ryan Shawcross has revealed that he is not fit enough to return against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Stoke City have been dealt a blow ahead of this weekend's game against Premier League bottom side Aston Villa with captain Ryan Shawcross ruling himself out the match whilst talking to BBC Radio Stoke, as quoted on the club's official website.

The 28-year-old centre-back missed the first two months of the season with a back injury, and has not played since 23 January since suffering a separate issue in the same area of his body against Leicester City.

The former Manchester United man had hoped to make a quick recovery, but he confirmed earlier on Thursday that the weekend clash with Villa has come too soon for him to return.

He told BBC Radio Stoke, as quoted on the club's website: "I won’t be ready for the weekend, definitely not, but hopefully it won’t be too long now. The injury has been a little bit stop-start to be honest, because I've been feeling ok and then I get a little niggle now and then which is frustrating.

"I felt pretty good quite quickly after sustaining it but I have struggled to make the step up right at the end - it is the last 10 percent that I am struggling for. I have had numerous injections and different treatments to hopefully cure it, so whilst that is happening I just have to remain patient.

"There is no timeframe on it, but obviously I want to be back sooner rather than later. I don't think I am too far away."

Until suffering the problems this season, Shawcross had a virtual ever-present in Stoke's team since joining the club in 2007.

He made 41 Championship appearances in his first season at the Britannia as the club won promotion to the Premier League, and since the Potters rose to the top flight he has only featured fewer than 30 times in a league season on two occasions.

He has been restricted to playing just 16 competitive matches in all competitions this season, but has been a key figure for the team when he has featured, with the club having conceded a total of just 10 goals in those fixtures.

Mark Hughes' side currently sit 10th in the league table, just five points off a guaranteed Europe League spot.

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