Stones Fit And Available

by Mike Taylor

The Dixies

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Roberto Martinez has confirmed John Stones is now fully fit and available, while Joel Robles will continue in goal for Saturday’s FA Cup fifth round clash against Bournemouth.

The Blues boss is likely to be without Oumar Niasse (wrist) and Muhamed Besic (hamstring) however, with both players doubts for the trip to Dean Court.

“Mo Besic has been working well but still on an individual basis - he hasn’t joined the group yet,” Martinez explained at his Thursday press conference. “John Stones started with the group on Monday and has benefited a lot from the break, because [this season] is probably the most amount of minutes he’s played in his professional career so far. I expect him to be part of the squad and to have a very strong ending to the season.

“We want to make sure Oumar is fully fit and ready. He had a little surgery on his wrist and that area has been causing him a bit of a problem. 

“He is getting physically stronger with every session and his positive attitude is contagious. The next 48 hours will give us the final answer on whether or not Oumar will be available. He still has an outside chance but, if not, I feel very confident he will be fit and ready to be involved for the next game against Aston Villa.”

Joel, who has played 11 times this season, began the campaign as the Blues’ designated cup goalkeeper, but has started each of the last five games in all competitions with Tim Howard still working his way back from a knee injury.

And Martinez added: “It's been a really good, consistent period for [Joel] and the back four.

“We've defended really well in the last four performances, we've conceded one goal, and in that game there was only one shot on target, so it's important you have continuity.

“At the moment Joel is doing really well but, at the same time, Tim Howard has been injured and hasn't been able to fight for that place back.

"But we'll benefit from the competition for places [going forward] and that's the way I want to see it.”

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