FA Cup final - Stoke v Man City

Late fitness tests for Etherington, Huth

May 11, 2011
By ESPNSoccernet staff

Stoke City's Matthew Etherington and Robert Huth will be given every opportunity to recover from their respective injuries in time to compete in the FA Cup final, with the Potters pair set to be given late fitness tests on Saturday.

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Etherington has been sidelined since tearing his hamstring against Wolves last month, while Huth injured his knee in the 3-1 victory over Arsenal on Sunday and has since been in Spain receiving sugar injections in his knee.

The duo have played a vital role in Stoke's progress to a first ever FA Cup final and their presence would give Tony Pulis' side a huge boost for Saturday's Wembley showdown with Manchester City.

"They are going along nice and steady at the moment and doing light training. We will give them right up until the game," Pulis said. "It will be a last-minute call. They will have fitness tests and then I will speak to the medical team. We will decide whether it is worth the chance or it is too risky.

"The two of them are desperate to play. We are desperate for them to play but it is just whether it is right for the team. My most difficult selection decision? Yes it is in respect of it being such a big game. It is important we get it right for the club and the team.''

Stoke chairman Peter Coates revealed on Tuesday that Germany defender Huth is fighting tooth and nail to be fit for the final.

''I think there has been a bit of a response to the treatment but it's far too early to reach any conclusions," Coates told the Stoke Sentinel. "He has seen a specialist we have used before and have full confidence in. He will then be coming back to us - then we just have to wait and hope.

''He will be desperate to play at Wembley, like any footballer would be, and it will be a terrible shame if he does miss out. It's going to be a very difficult judgment to make about whether he plays - for the player, the medical staff and, ultimately, Tony Pulis.''

Stoke are already without defender Danny Higginbotham and striker Ricardo Fuller, who are out for the rest of the season with knee and Achilles heel problems respectively.

With City securing a top-four finish by beating Tottenham on Tuesday, Stoke will play in the Europa League next season no matter the result on Saturday.

"You would not of dreamed of it a few years ago," Pulis said. "Stoke in an FA Cup final, perhaps finishing in the top 10 of the Premier League and being in Europe. It is a bit special.''