Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday April 24 2009
25th April 2009
Stoke will be without the twin might of Danny Higginbotham and James Beattie for Saturday's trip to the capital and the match at Fulham.
Beattie looked to be struggling towards the end of last week's win against Blackburn and the club revealed yesterday that he'd miss the trip due to a hamstring injury.
The Potters are keen to keep the momentum going that has seen them gain 10 points in their last four games and they're undefeated since the trip to Goodison Park six weeks ago.
All the pre-match media interest has been on Tony Pulis' London Marathon run on Sunday but, as you'd expect, he's only concentrating on Saturday's match for now and has now admitted that just two more points from the remaining five games should see us safe from relegation: 'If we get over 40 points, I think that will see us over the line.'
It's a sell-out at Craven Cottage as the Cottagers make a late dash for an unlikely European slot but the boss, Roy Hodgson is bemoaning the loss of Simon Davies because of a stress fracture of the foot that may keep him out for rest of the season. Midfielder Giles Barnes is out with an Achilles injury and defender Tony Kallio has not yet fully recovered from a virus.
Tony Pulis has said that he is a long-time admirer of the London born striker and Zamora was reported to have nearly made the move to Stoke in January 2005 after initially finding the going tough at West Ham.
Since moving across town in the summer he's failed to hit the back of the net much this season with just 2 goals in 30 starts.
With just five games to go, we could do without the rash of injuries that seem to have crept up on us. One factor behind our recent, improved form has to be the fact that we've been able to name the same starting eleven for three consecutive matches.
Obviously Mamady Sidibe is still out after undergoing an operation on his knee this week. But in addition to Higgs and Beatts, we may also have to do without Andy Wilkinson after he still seems to be suffering from a back injury sustained during the Rovers' win last weekend.
With Beattie out, I'd like to Henri Camara given a start up front, but TP seems to prefer Richard Cresswell. Stephen Kelly and Danny Pugh may also get a start.
The man who confessed his undying love for Stoke City and the fans after last week's victory may just be the sort of person we need to hold the defence firm at Craven Cottage. Just a solitary point would take us a long way to securing survival for next season.
Why not back Tony in his Marathon run on Sunday in aid of the Donna Louise Trust. We've even made it easy to sponsor him by clicking here:
Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Saturday 2nd May: West Ham (home) kick-off: 3pm
Date:Friday April 24 2009
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