Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday March 14 2008
15th March 2008
It's second versus third at Vicarage Road as the Potters continue a punishing week of travelling after coming away from Norwich with all three points. Saturday's match against the team just below us will be tough and the Potters' manager has been determined that the squad treat the game with the respect that it needs. so they travelled down to a Hertfordshire hotel a full 24 hours earlier than normal so that the preparations could be completed without any distractions.
Tony Pulis reacted to criticism from the sides that lie below Stoke and Watford that they are both 'long ball' teams: 'It doesn't make any difference to me what others say.'
All I know is that we've scored more goals than anyone except West Brom, we have people like Ricardo Fuller who's a tremendous footballer, and also have players like Liam Lawrence and Andy Griffin, who are top, top players.'
Matt Sadler is likely to return after shrugging off a hamstring injury. Former Wigan midfielder Damien Francis is still out with a knee injury.
The former Potter has proved a big hit at Vicarage Road since his move south earlier this season and has been rewarded with being made the Hornets' captain.
Stoke may field new loan signing, Jay Bothroyd if Mamady Sidibe is still ruled out with a hamstring injury. Leon Cort is also a doubt after he limped off in the midweek victory at Norwich. Liam Lawrence misses the match as he serves the first of a two match ban, but Glenn Whelan is available again after his suspension.
Whelan has already established himself in the heart of the Stoke midfield since his move from Sheffield Wednesday at the end of January and is proving another shrewd capture for TP.
The first leg of this tie back at the Brit in front of the TV cameras in December ended in a goalless draw.
With both teams battling it out for promotion to the Premier League, we've attracted yet another high profile referee, this time the high and mighty Rob Styles. Let's hope and pray that this 'top' referee doesn't also end up stealing the limelight like a certain Mr. D'Urso the other week.
Sat 22nd March: Blackpool (home) kick-off: 3pm
Sat 29th March: Sheffield Wed (away) kick-off: 3pm
Mon 7th April: Crystal Palace (home) kick-off 8pm (Sky TV)
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Date:Friday March 14 2008
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