Who'll start for Stoke?
Most fans will agree (and by all accounts the Potters' management as well) that we've not got enough new talent in yet for another credible push for a play-off place - or better - this season. But let's have a look at who we have got...
Simonsen and Hoult: Should be fine there at least.
Higginbotham, Hill, Broomes, Buxton, Wright, Wilkinson, Dickinson and Shotton: Danny, Clint and new loan signing, Stephen Wright should be first choice along with either Dicko or Wilko. Marlon Broomes is yet to fully recover from a long injury lay-off but Lewis Buxton has had a full pre-season after his injury problems and should play his part. But with no Hoefkens or Griffin, strength in depth is definitely lacking and the worry is what will happen when injuries and suspensions start to take their toll as the season progresses.
Eustace, Lawrence, Sweeney, Delap, Pulis, Garrett, Hazley: Still missing the vital influence of a Hendrie or Diao, I would see us starting with John Eustace, Liam Lawrence and Rory Delap, but again no strength in depth with just the youngsters in reserve along with Peter Sweeney who failed to shine last season. It's the midfield that worries me the most.
Fuller, Parkin, Sidibe, Cresswell, Pericard, Rooney: Here, at least, we should be stronger than last season, but the question is 'who do you start along with Fuller?'. Pulis has been playing either the Fuller/Sidibe or Parkin/Pericard combinations in pre-season but that gives us few clues as to who will be first choice alongside Fuller now that Cresswell has joined. Vital Stoke readers have indicated they'd like to see Richard Cresswell link up again with Ricardo Fuller, but at least it's one area where we have a choice and some decent backup.
The good news is that Tony Pulis still wants to get at least three new players in and Peter Coates has said that there is money available including the £1m cash from the sales of Hoefkens and Russell, but the bad news is that there is no news yet. As we're used to seeing at the Britannia - good intentions and hopes do not easily turn into concrete signings.
Do you agree with me? Have your say below...
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