Asmir Begovic has been the best player at Stoke City, but the club will have to do without him for up to six weeks after the goalkeeper suffered a broken finger that will keep him sidelined until at least February. Begovic broke his finger in training on Christmas Day and missed the Potters' 5-1 loss to Newcastle on Boxing Day.
"Asmir could be out for five to six weeks," Mark Hughes said after the Newcastle game. "He did it right at the end of training yesterday and it's quite a bad break.
"We hope he's back sooner than predicted but we're going to be without him for a while."
It was a bad two days for Stoke, who lost Begovic then had two men sent off against the Magpies, not that the goalkeeper blamed Santa for the Potters' lump of coal.
Well not an ideal couple of days, broken finger and injustice for the boys in Newcastle! Cheers Santa!!— Asmir Begovic (@asmir1) December 26, 2013
With Begovic out, Hughes turned to Thomas Sorensen in goal. The Danish international was playing his first league match of the season, but he has plenty of experience, having played in two World Cups, a Euro and over 400 Premier League appearances. The Potters did have to recall Jack Butland from is loan at Barnsley to backup Sorensen.
Stoke sit 10th place, but only five points clear of the drop zone so if the Potters cannot handle life without Begovic, they may be facing relegation by the time he gets back.