STOKE boss Mark Hughes admitted that any interest in signing Lee Cattermole has been halted by Sunderland’s trip to the Capital One Cup final.
The Black Cats midfielder was wanted by Hughes, but the prospect of a major Wembley final puts a major obstacle in the City manager’s path.
Asked about Cattermole, Hughes said: “I think, given that Sunderland had a fantastic result the other night - I was there at the game (Wednesday’s semi-final second leg at Manchester United), and they played exceptionally well.
“And the player you have mentioned played really well - it is highly unlikely that one will happen.”
Hughes also stressed that Potters striker Peter Crouch is not for sale.
Reports have linked Crouch with a possible move back to his old club QPR and a reunion with their manager Harry Redknapp, who the 32-year-old has played under at various different points in his career.
But asked whether he would consider letting Crouch go, Hughes said: “No, it is not an option.”
Trying to boost Stoke’s attack has been a key focus for Hughes during the current transfer window, in which he has already recruited Manchester City’s John Guidetti on loan.
Fellow striker Juan Agudelo has also joined, although is spending time on loan with FC Utrecht while the Potters try to secure a work permit for him, and midfielder Stephen Ireland has signed a permanent deal at the Britannia Stadium as well having previously been on loan from Aston Villa.
Stoke face Sunderland away in their next Barclays Premier League match on Wednesday, before which they head to Chelsea for tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth-round tie.
Potters’ former Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones, who was not considered for selection last time out as a result of his refusal to be involved in the game before that, may be back in the squad.
Hughes said: “In terms of numbers we are a little bit down this week, so he comes into our thinking. He is a contracted player, so he’s available.
“He has come in and trained correctly and that is what I would expect from Kenwyne.
“It is a situation we have been through, and there have been discussions about it. Both parties know where they stand at the moment.”
Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic could also make his return to action at Stamford Bridge.
Begovic has been sidelined by a broken finger for six matches, during which time Thomas Sorensen and Jack Butland have deputised, with the latter making a particularly positive impression.
Now all three are fit, Hughes admits he has a tricky decision to make.
“I’m very fortunate here at Stoke that I have three exceptionally talented keepers, all at varying stages of their careers,” Hughes said.
“It is something I’m going to mull over and I will speak to the guys tomorrow if I feel I need to explain things.”