Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday March 17 2006
18th March 2006
Stoke City welcome Burnley to the Britannia on Saturday, bringing with them a trio of former Potters' players: Wayne Thomas, James O'Connor and Gifton Noel Williams and of course former Stoke Manager, Steve Cotterill.
The Clarets, like the Potters, have had a disappointing last few weeks mirroring our drop in form falling from 5th place to 17th and are now just two places behind Stoke. This seems to have coincided with the departure of that other former Potter, Ade Akinbiyi to Sheffield United in the January transfer window.
Although I admit it's starting to sound like a stuck record, we need to get back on to winning ways and what better game than against Burnley, who have taken over the mantle of the bogey man in recent years.
Steve Cotterill told the Burnley official site: 'The last time we played, we were fifth and sixth or something like that, so both teams are sure to be different this week,'
'Both clubs at the time were flying high, both sets of players were doing well, two good traditional clubs with good supporters and going into Christmas I'm sure we were both very happy.
'But now we are where we are. I wish Stoke all the best, not for Saturday, but from afterwards.
'It will perhaps be the one that holds its nerves, plays the best football and more than anything else has the breaks, that wins this time.'
Luke Chadwick should be fit after struggling with muscle problems and fatigue, but Carl Hoefkens looks certain to be absent after he suffering a hamstring injury during Monday's match against Crystal Palace. Dave Brammer and Darel Russell are also doubtful but could still play.
After a two week rest and if declared fit, Luke should be raring to go against the club where he had a succesfull loan spell in 2003/4, playing 23 times and scoring 5 goals in the process.
The Clarets have completed two loan signings this week - striker Andy Gray from Sunderland and defender Phil Bardsley from Man United. Both should play and the only possible absentee will be midfielder, Micah Hyde who will have a fitness test before the game.
Whilst Sunderland have not set the Premiership alight this season, Gray will be out to impress his new club.
Not a good record against Burnley at the Brit. We've only drawn one game and lost four.
Saturday 23rd March: Leeds United (AWAY) Kick-off 3pm
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Date:Friday March 17 2006
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