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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Stoke could lose Higginbotham for rest of season

Stoke manager Tony Pulis fears left-back Danny Higginbotham may miss the remainder of the season because of a back injury.

Higginbotham is definitely out of the Premier League match against Fulham on Saturday at Craven Cottage after suffering the setback in the victory over Blackburn last weekend.

Striker James Beattie is also sidelined with a thigh injury while right-back Andy Wilkinson remains doubtful because of a back problem.

Pulis said: "Danny has hurt one of the discs in his back and could need an operation. We might have seen the last of him this season.

"As for Beattie, he will not be fit for Fulham while there is a question mark over Wilkinson.''

With striker Mamady Sidibe absent with a knee problem - Amdy Faye and Salif Diao are also injured - Pulis is short of options, especially up front.

"Beattie and Ricardo Fuller have looked a threat together, so it is a case of finding the right balance with Sidibe unavailable, '' said the Stoke boss.

"Everyone wants to play in the team and it is a blow for us. The last thing you want at this time of year is injuries.''

Meanwhile, Rory Delap intends to ignore the nagging pain in his shoulder for the remaining games of the season.

He said: "I have got a bit of a sore shoulder but hopefully I can get that sorted out in the summer.

"We cannot afford to relax. If you do that you could end up without a point between now and the end of the season.

"Even if we do stay up we don't want to go into the next campaign on a poor run of form.''

Delap has been Stoke's lethal weapon in their first season in the Premier League and weighed in with a number of assists thanks to the different ways he launches the ball from the touchline.

However, the 32-year-old, who has worn the colours of Carlisle, Derby, Southampton and Sunderland, is bewildered by all the fuss surrounding his throw-ins.

He said: "I have used it wherever I have been but probably I am having more success here. That is to do with the manager and the players we have.

"It has been strange to get so much attention and managers going on about what I do. Maybe teams think we are a one-trick pony.

"If that tactic deflects from the other things we are are doing, it is great. I am sure we will keep using the throws as a small part of our game.''

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