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Stoke’s Shawcross ruled out of League Cup semi-final

Stoke’s Shawcross ruled out of League Cup semi-final

REUTERS – Stoke City manager Mark Hughes will be without captain Ryan Shawcross for the League Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool on Tuesday.

Stoke must overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to reach the final at Wembley on Feb. 28 and keep alive their hopes of winning their first major trophy since the 1972 League Cup.

“We are going to really push for it tomorrow,” Hughes told a news conference on Monday.

“You always remember Cup finals and semi-finals because of the excitement and the atmosphere, and we want to make tomorrow a night to remember.

“Hopefully come 10 p.m. tomorrow night we will be in the final of this competition for the first time in 40-odd years, and I will be reminding the players of that before kickoff.”

Shawcross, however, is out for three to four weeks after injuring his back in the 3-0 defeat by Leicester City at the weekend.

The central defender returned to the team in October following a spell on the sidelines due to back surgery.

“Thankfully Ryan’s injury isn’t a recurrence of the problem he had last year, but unfortunately he has some muscle damage and at the moment it looks likely that he will be out for three to four weeks, which is hard for us to take,” Hughes said.

There is better news on striker Marko Arnautovic, who missed the defeat at Leicester with a hamstring problem, but Hughes is still mulling over whether to deploy Peter Crouch in attack, given Liverpool’s vulnerability at set-pieces.

“If you are going by defences at the weekend then there were mistakes from both Norwich and Liverpool to be honest,” Hughes added.

“Peter Crouch is always in my thoughts because he is a good player and offers something a bit different.”

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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