Stoke City at Manchester United: Dean Whitehead on standby for Old Trafford mission
DEAN Whitehead is ready to step into the breach at Manchester United tomorrow to replace stricken midfield colleague Glenn Whelan.
Whelan is still struggling with the hamstring injury he aggravated in the early stages of Stoke's last outing at Liverpool.
And Whitehead, his impressive replacement at Anfield two weeks' ago, is the obvious man to step at Old Trafford.
"There is only one man that decides that," said Whitehead. "We have a good squad, so when we do get injuries we have plenty of players who can do the job."
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Whitehead, who lost his regular place following the end-of-August arrivals of Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi, agrees Stoke's midfield is the most hotly contested area of the team.
"There's maybe 10 or 11 players playing for three shirts, so there is a lot of competition, but that's healthy. All the lads are rising to the occasion.
"It's not good being out of the team, but you have to bide your time and wait for your chance."
Whitehead took his at Liverpool when he matched anyone around him after quickly picking up the pace following his 20th minute introduction.
"It's difficult to get going when you come on as a sub," he admitted. "You don't really warm up properly and almost have to warm up during the game.
"But I seemed to be OK, you all have a job to do in the team. Now we need to carry that on in another difficult test at United."
Whelan remains under intensive treatment, meanwhile, after pulling up during the Liverpool game and then missing Ireland's subsequent World Cup qualifiers against Germany and the Faroe Islands.
Stoke's other selection dilemma surrounds right-back tomorrow because of Andy Wilkinson's availability again after a three-match ban.
American Geoff Cameron has largely impressed as his replacement, but will be tired after travelling through the night to make training yesterday following international duty in Antigua and Kansas during the past seven days.