André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
The Wembley dream may be over for Stoke City striker Ricardo Fuller as there are mounting fears over his chances to recover in time for the FA Cup final after picking up an Achilles injury in league play against Aston Villa on the weekend.
Fuller was introduced to the game in the 75th minute, but left on a stretcher before the final whistle, casting question marks over his availability and his chances of figuring in what would be one of the biggest games in his Stoke career.
Things may actually be far worse for the 31-year-old Jamaican international who, besides already being ruled out of today's Premier League clash against Wolver-hampton, is also in danger of missing the May 14 FA Cup final against Manchester City, and, in fact, the remainder of the season.
Coach Tony Pulis would not say much about the striker's condition, but was hopeful that he would recover in time to feature in the club's first FA Cup final in their 148-year history.
"We're hoping it's not as bad as people think, but it doesn't look good," Pulis told British media. "I don't really want to comment much until we know the results of the scan.
"We're just hoping and praying it isn't anything serious for Ricardo. I thought he may have been kicked at the time, but Ric says it just popped as he landed," Pulis added.
If he was to be forced to watch from the sideline, it would be a major blow for the injury-prone striker and also for the club as team captain Ryan Shawcross revealed it was an inspirational Fuller speech that set the tone for their 5-0 demolition job on Bolton Wanderers in their semi-final match-up.
"It's his Achilles that he has damaged, and although it is too early to say, it does not look too good," Pulis admitted before assessing the impact that Fuller's possible absence would have on his team's chances in the Wembley contest.
"It is a big blow to us because he is a game changer who can come on and do special things," said Pulis. "Even in the short time that he was on the pitch (against Aston Villa), he created three or four opportunities out of nothing. That is Ric for you."
Fuller, first introduced to the national set-up in 1998 as an Under-20 representative, has featured in three FIFA World Cup campaigns (2002, 2006, 2010) and two CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments (2005, 2009) for the national senior team.