STOKE City refused to allow Thibaud Verlinden play for Wanderers in Saturday’s FA Cup defeat to Plymouth.

The Belgian winger was withdrawn from the squad late on the say-so of new Potters boss Michael O’Neill, meaning he could potentially play in future rounds for the Championship club.

Verlinden is on loan with Wanderers until January and his absence from the side did leave Keith Hill’s side lacking in the creativity department as they struggled to break the Pilgrims down.

“He can open doors in that sort of situation,” Hill said after the game.

“After they took the lead they became a dangerous counter-attacking team.

“They are good at sitting deep and then springing into a counter-attack with the striker. We fell into the trap, really, after the first 10-15 minutes. We became very laboured in possession.

“Would Thibaud have made a difference? Possibly. But we’ll never know. He’s eligible now for Stoke in the next round of the FA Cup.”

Hill also confirmed striker Connor Hall damaged his hamstring after coming on as a second-half sub.

“We’re trying to roll the dice at that stage of the game and give Connor a chance to run in and get some opportunities when the gaps open up. It’s so unfortunate for him, but that’s football.”