Stoke City's preparations for tonight's clash with Arsenal were disrupted by the news that midfield mastro Rory Delap is facing the prospect of missing the rest of the season after going into hospital this week for surgery on his shoulder.
A spokesman admitted that "...the lad will be undergoing an emergency operation to repair damage to his rotator cuff tendons". A surgeon at the city hospital added that "this area of the upper torso is especially vulnerable if there is constant use of the shoulders and arms to propel an object for long distances".
An official admitted "We are all gutted for the lad. Its an absolute mystery how he could have been struck down by this complaint. The club is at this very moment carrying out a comprehensive investigation into any potential causes of the injury and will do all in its power to ensure that no other player is similarly affected".