Ethers doubtful for cup final

Etherington pulled up suddenly clutching the back of his leg during

the 3-0 Premier League victory at the Britannia Stadium. He now

faces a race against time to be fit to face Manchester City at

Wembley on May 14. Etherington’s injury follows those suffered by

striker Ricardo Fuller (ruptured Achilles) and defender Danny

Higginbotham (knee), with both men already ruled out of the

showpiece match. Potters boss Tony Pulis said: “It is a massive

disappointment for us. We won’t know the extent of Matty’s injury

until tomorrow when he has a scan. “But we will do our damnedest to

make sure (he is ready) as he has 17-18 days yet. The first week is

very important as we will get it sorted out. “Then he will have 10

days after that to get it as strong as he possibly can to play in

the final. “Having lost Ricardo and Danny it is a massive blow

because we haven’t got the resources of Manchester City. It would

have been tough enough with our best players.” Stoke have almost

certainly secured their top-flight status for a fourth succcesive

season thanks to goals from Kenwyne Jones, Ryan Shawcross and

Jermaine Pennant. However Pulis is not relaxing just yet. “It was a

big game for us,” he said. “The players’ attitude and application

towards the job was fantastic. The first half was as good as we

have played in the Premier League. “We hope our status is

guaranteed now. To get to a fourth season in the Premier League and

reach the FA Cup final is quite a remarkable journey. “This club

and this team is a lot better that the team that came in. We have

gradually improved. It was Wolves’ 13th defeat in 17 away league

games and the prospect of relegation remains very real. Manager

Mick McCarthy said: “That’s as poor as we have played here. They

were better than us. They stopped us playing. “It is difficult time

when you are in the bottom three and playing against a good side

who have just got to Wembley. “Playing for Premier League survival

should be enough to motivate us. We will play better in the

remaining four games.”