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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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Wilson and Etherington may miss run-in

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis fears he will be without Marc Wilson and Matthew Etherington for the remainder of his side's battle to remain in the Premier League.

• Blog: Light at end of tunnel

Pulis is pessimistic over the chances of the duo figuring again this season as he looks to reach the 40-point target he has set his team to retain their top-flight status.

Wilson, who missed four months of the campaign with a broken leg, has suffered a recurrence of his hamstring problems, while Etherington remains sidelined with a back injury that has plagued him for most of the season.

The pair retain a slim chance of returning before the end of the season, but Pulis said: "Both of them are having intensive treatment and it's a case of keeping everything crossed for them.

"They are clearly a concern, and at this stage we don't know when, or if, they will be back. They have been a miss, there's no denying that."

Pulis feels the absence of Etherington has been one of the key factors in Stoke's troubles this season. The former West Ham winger has barely figured in the side since the turn of the year.

"I think we have particularly missed Matty in our home games because of the pace he has to stretch teams," Pulis said. "I still maintain that there's few, if any, better players of his type when he's fit and firing. That's why it's imperative we get him playing again."

Etherington and Wilson have only started three games together on the left-hand side of the team this season.

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