Stoke City of England midfielder, John Mikel Obi is still battling to regain full fitness heading into this weekend’s English Championship clash with one of his former clubs, Middlesbrough, megasportsarena.com reports.
With Mikel yet to be declared 100% match fit, Stoke’s coach, Michael O’Neill has admitted that the former Super Eagles’ captain would have to be rested for the battle with Boro, which would be the second straight game he would miss for The Potters.
It was only last weekend that Mikel was ruled out of a game for the first time since his return to England, as the ex-Lyn Oslo of Norway, Chelsea of England, Tianjin Teda of China and Trabzonspor of Turkey star was not included in Stoke’s 1-0 win away to Wycombe Wanderers.
Saturday’s game has now come too soon for Mikel, who is recovering from a calf complaint and would have loved to featured against Boro, where he spent the second half of the 2018/19 season at Riverside Stadium, but O’Neill said he would rather rest the icon, who started 14 consecutive matches, in a total of 1,246 minutes, before injury sent him to the sidelines.
O’Neill said: “John is still an extreme doubt, along with Steven and Jordan, so it’s unlikely we will have any of those players back. We’ll monitor them later just to see where they are at, but I think we have to be mindful of the schedule.
“(We should) not rush people back too soon because the risk is you leave them for longer. We want to avoid that situation going forward but we are a wee bit stretched in terms of the players that are out.”