Pieters, Zouma doubtful for Stoke's clash with West Brom

Pieters, Zouma doubtful for Stoke's clash with West Brom
FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Premier League - Stoke City vs West Ham United - bet365 Stadium, Stoke-On-Trent, Britain - December 16, 2017 Stoke City's Erik Pieters in action with West Ham United's Michail Antonio Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith
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(Reuters) – Stoke City could be without injured defenders Erik Pieters and Kurt Zouma for Saturday’s Premier League clash with West Bromwich Albion, manager Mark Hughes said on Friday.

Left back Pieters was substituted after 63 minutes in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat by West Ham United and is yet to recover from a knock while centre back Zouma, who missed the game, has a hamstring injury.

“We have a few concerns, unfortunately. Erik Pieters is a major, major doubt for us, and so is Kurt Zouma,” Hughes told a news conference on Friday.

The pair’s absence could be a big blow to 17th-placed Stoke, who have conceded 39 goals this season, as they look to avoid a fourth straight league defeat and ease the pressure on manager Hughes.

“Our record in defence is nowhere near as good as we wanted it to be, but we haven’t been in a position where we have been able to call upon the same personnel week in, week out,” Hughes said.

“That has affected us, at times, but it isn’t just about the back four or back five, we need to defend better as a group.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t had that, but that doesn’t mean we are hiding behind other factors because we know we have needed to be netter in certain games.”

Charlie Adam will be assessed before the game and could make his return after a hip injury.

West Brom are 19th in the table and on their longest ever winless run of 16 games after two victories in their opening two matches of the season.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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