Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday February 17 2006
Sunday 19th February
Its eight years since these two teams last met and the scoreline that day was one that the Potters would like to put behind them this weekend. Stoke start the underdogs in Sunday's FA 5th round tie, which will suit them, against a Birmingham team that's having a similar torrid time in the Premier League.
Let's hope that a possible 15,000 to 20,000 crowd (including a sold out South Stand) will see a game to remember for all the right reasons and rekindle our flagging confidence.
Sammy Bangoura has spent the week apologising to both the club and fans for his delayed return from Egypt, 'I apologised in front of the players. There was a problem with Johan Boskamp for being late, but now everything is all right. He is a good manager and a good man'.
Meanwhile, recent signing Peter Kopteff is relishing the chance to play against fellow countryman, Mikael Forssell.
He told the official site: 'I used to know him well when we were back in Finland.
He's definitely going to be very good. He has been really unlucky with injuries and he has basically had two years destroyed by that. But he works really hard and I think he's going to be back even better than he was before the injuries.'
Stoke will start with the same team that drew with Plymouth in midweek (except for Skoko who is cup tied) as the good news from the dressing room is that Sam Bangoura and Mamady Sidibe should both start.
Bangoura broke two bones in his hand after the Plymouth keeper fell on him during the midweek game and will have a plaster cast on during the game. Sidibe was stretchered off during the same game with a broken nose and facial injuries. He will play with a face mask and have an operation to correct the nose on Monday.
Paul Gallagher is still off with a knee injury and Darel Russell is serving the last of his three match suspension.
The one man who could cause an upset this weekend. He had a slightly quiet game in midweek after finally returning to the Potteries, his one good chance would have been buried but for a fine save from the Plymouth keeper.
It'll be our first opportunity to see how good he really is against Premiership opposition.
Brimingham should field an impressive lineup at the Brit as they have no room for complacency. Melchiot, Butt, Forssell and Heskey should all start.
Experienced 32 year old striker, who joined from Celtic on a free transfer during last summer.
It's eight years since the last meeting of the two sides. It was a dreadful game for the Potters, losing 7-0 in their first season at the Brit which ended with them being relegated.
Mike Dean (Wirrall)
Saturday 25th February: Millwall (Home) Kick off: 3pm
Date:Friday February 17 2006
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