Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday March 18 2011
Saturday 19th March 2011
After last weekend's excitement it's back to the League and another vital game with Newcastle United arriving at the Brit. The Potters must put the FA Cup on the back-burner tomorrow as earning three points is now more important than ever with tricky games coming up against Chelsea and Spurs before our date at Wembley.
It should be another good atmosphere with the visitors selling all their tickets and an almost (if not) full house at the home end.
Danny Higginbotham is expecting a rough ride from the Toon Army, along with the clutch of other former Sunderland players that we've got at the Brit. He told the official site: 'They are very passionate supporters up there as I have bore witness to myself. They may still be a little upset about the goal I got up there for Sunderland, but I do have a lot of respect for them. I'm sure myself and a couple of others will get a little bit of stick.
'They are very passionate fans, very similar to the fans here to be honest, and they travel all around the country in big numbers. For that you have to give them immense credit. Though saying that, hopefully they aren't too happy with the outcome of the game come five o clock on Saturday.'
Tony Pulis will have to decide whether to recall Asmir Begovic to league duty or to keep Thomas Sorensen after a good performance in the Cup last weekend. Begovic had a poor game in our last League outing against the Hammers, but some fine saves against the Baggies three weeks ago could keep him in the starting eleven.
John Carew is a doubt after missing the cup match last week with a back problem
Jones looked more lively last week than he has for a while, but a striker needs to be scoring goals and he's now been overtaken by Robert Huth as the Potters' top scorer in all competitions.
The Magpies will give a late fitness test to midfielder Joey Barton, who has returned to training after missing the last two games with a thigh injury.
Jose Enrique is set to miss out with a hamstring problem, while Jonas Gutierrez has a similar injury.
The Toon Army's local media have been building up the former Stoke loanee's return to the Potteries as a chance for the striker to show us how to play 'proper' football. From what I remember of Shola's short stay at Stoke in the final months of our promotion season his six appearances didn't set the world alight, but he has at least attempted to stay out of the slanging match by saying that he enjoyed his time at the Brit.
Saturday 2nd April: Chelsea (home) kick-off: 3pm
Date:Friday March 18 2011
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