Stoke relief as Fuller cleared for semi-final

Stoke have been given a boost ahead of Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Bolton at Wembley after they learnt that striker Ricardo Fuller would be available to play.

Fuller, 31, was concerned he could be ruled out of the showpiece match after a confrontation with a supporter on Saturday during the 3-2 defeat by Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

However the Football Association have confirmed there is no case to answer. A spokesman for the governing body said: "We do not tend to react to still images, so we looked at the television footage of the incident. After reviewing the footage, it was decided no further action would be taken."

Fuller has been used mainly as an impact substitute this season, making only nine league starts and scoring four goals.

Former Stoke manager Lou Macari believes Ryan Shawcross deserves his day in the sun at Wembley for the way the defender has responded to hostile criticism.

Shawcross has been one of the pillars of the Stoke side this season. It says much for the 23-year-old's mindset given the outcry following his challenge on Aaron Ramsey 15 months ago that resulted in a badly broken leg for the Arsenal midfielder.

"When Ryan was at Manchester United, and I have spoken to people there, he does not have a bad bone in his body," said Macari, who was promoting EON's Energy Fit Campaign, which helps customers, businesses and clubs save money.

"He has been consistent at Stoke, heading the ball away, tackling like a defender is supposed to do. Unfortunately for him, on one occasion especially he has been tagged as Mr Nasty. He is certainly not. That tackle [on Ramsey] was a misjudged challenge and the lad ended up in a bad way. He is not a nasty player and Stoke do not have nasty players. I have never seen it."

Macari has lauded current boss Tony Pulis and hit out at those supporters who are critical despite Stoke being almost certain to secure their Premier League status for a third successive season.

He said: "They have made fantastic progress. but a lot of supporters have become a bit blasé about being in the Premier League. It is a massive achievement. People overlook it and think they should be competing against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. That is not going to happen.

"Stoke cannot afford to buy the players to do that. They certainly cannot afford to pay the wages. What they have done is been very careful with their money. They have made the right decisions."

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