Whelan hopes fans will back Stoke flops
STOKE City captain Glenn Whelan (pictured) believes that the club's fans will stick with the team despite last week's dismal FA Cup exit.
Stoke crashed out of the FA Cup with a 4-1 loss to Championship side Blackburn Rovers and skipper Whelan was highly critical of his team's display, the Dubliner hoping for better when the Premier League resumes tomorrow with a clash against Aston Villa.
"Ever since I've been here they have supported us through thick and thin, and I'm sure they will be no different tomorrow," Whelan said of the Stoke supporters.
"Hopefully, they will get a different Stoke City team compared to last Saturday, the one that's shown up for most of the season.
"Villa Park is one of the closest grounds for our fans to get to and they always turn up in numbers.
"They are a proud and loyal bunch and one result last Saturday isn't going to change that."
Martin O'Neill will be keeping a close eye on the Villa-Stoke clash as he counts down the days until the Euro 2016 qualifier at home to Poland.
From a Villa point of view, the Ireland boss will take note if Villa retain Shay Given in goal after his impressive FA Cup display last week, though Brad Guzan is expected to return.
But Stoke's injury situation is also an issue for O'Neill as Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters, key men for the Ireland boss, hope to return from injury in time to face Villa.
Wilson has missed the club's last two games while Walters has a knee injury but both are close to fitness.