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No. 50: Emre Can, Liverpool

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Stoke eye new left-back

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has been told he can sign a replacement left-back following the misfortune of losing Marc Wilson to a broken leg.

•  Wilson signs new deal

Pulis' excellent relationship with his chairman Peter Coates has again come to the fore after the Republic of Ireland international was ruled out until February with the injury suffered in Saturday's goalless draw with Sunderland.

Andy Wilkinson, although more naturally right-sided, is in line to cover for Wilson in the role, starting with Saturday's trip to Norwich City. But reinforcements could well be on the way in the January transfer window if they are deemed necessary.

"I don't think you get value for money in the January window," said Coates. "But, if we need a left-back and haven't managed the situation as well as we can, we will have to do something about it then.

"It's something we will have to assess at the time but we can look at if we have to, whether it be a loan or something more permanent."

The loss of Wilson is potentially harmful to Stoke's Premier League prospects as Pulis admitted left-back was one area in which he lacked competition.

He made strenuous attempts in the summer window to sign Goran Popov from Dynamo Kiev but saw the Macedonia international join West Bromwich Albion instead.

Blackburn Rovers' Swedish international Martin Olsson is a possible Stoke target when the transfer window re-opens, although Danny Higginbotham could be recalled from his loan spell at Ipswich.

Coates has expressed his sympathy to Wilson, who has just signed a new long-term contract, but believes Stoke were possibly due such a blow. "I suppose we have been rather fortunate up to now in avoiding long-term injuries," he added.

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