Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday December 8 2006
Stoke City welcome QPR to the Brit on Saturday and it promises to be a fiery match if the last two seasons are anything to go by. Two years ago, Marc Bircham got Gerry Taggart sent off, last season's match saw John Halls red carded and the game ended with a pitched battle in the QPR goal mouth.
Hopefully, this match will only be remembered for another great win and the seventh consecutive clean sheet.
Andy Griffin completes a very successful loan spell after this game and we will hopefully see him return next month having signed a permanent contract.
In contrast, QPR visit on the back of three consecutive defeats which culminated in a 3-0 thrashing at Palace last weekend. But they will be buoyed up in the knowledge that they have picked up maximum points in their last three visits to the Brit.
Lee Hendrie nearly joined QPR on loan instead of Stoke, but was swayed by his dad, Paul, who played with Tony Pulis at Bristol Rovers in the 1970's. Hendrie Junior told the Sentinel: 'I made the right choice because Stoke have been a godsend for me'.
Although he admits that he greatly admires his former Villa boss who is now running Rangers: 'John Gregory is a top guy, one of the best managers I've worked with', adding 'we still speak and if I had gone down to QPR it would have been because of him'.
Let's hope his dad can put another word in his ear if he does have to leave Villa Park soon.
Stoke will be waiting to check on the fitness of Ricardo Fuller after he had to jet across to Jamaica and back in midweek because of family problems, otherwise Vincent Pericard will start in his place.
Danny Higginbotham, Clint Hill and Liam Lawrence are all still struggling with injuries, but are not yet ruled out.
Fans will be hoping that it's a case of 'see you again soon' as Griff plays his final game on loan before returning to Portsmouth.
Griffin has made it no secret that he would jump at the chance of a permanent return to the Potteries in January, but it's out of his and Stoke's hands and they will have to wait and see what Harry Redknapp's plans are for him.
But who will ever forget his wonder goal against Coventry back in October?
QPR boss, John Gregory has said that they 'are down to the bare bones' but is likely to bring Marc Bircham, who whilst not yet fully fit, is reportedly 'fit to travel'.
Zesh Rehman and Ray Jones are both suspended, while Gareth Ainsworth (ankle), Pat Kanyuka (hamstring), Dominic Shimmin (hamstring) and Steve Lomas (knee) are all still injured.
The former Millwall midfielder, well known for his colourful hair and playing a major part in Gerry Taggart's sending off two seasons ago may not start. But, even from the bench, is certain to get a lot of grief from the Boothen End.
Last December's match at the Brit ended with QPR winning 2-1. Rangers had gone ahead after only one minute, but Sammy Bangoura (remember him?) equalised only for Halls to be sent off and the resulting penalty gave the visitors the points.
Sat 16th Dec: Colchester (away) kick-off: 3pm
Sat 23rd Dec: Ipswich (away) kick-off: 3pm
Boxing Day: Sheff Wed (home) kick-off: 3pm
Sat 30th Dec: Leeds (home) kick-off: 3pm
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Date:Friday December 8 2006
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