Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday December 15 2006
Stoke make the first of two pre-Christmas trips to the east coast on Saturday as they visit one of the other in-form teams - Colchester.
The U's currently hold the goal scoring record so far this season whilst the Potters have the meanest defence so it should be an interesting battle.
Former Stoke player, Chris Iwelumo told the Sentinel that he's looking forward to trying to break the Potters' defensive record: 'You can also bet there'll be a few comments to Michael Duberry if I nick one against him.'
First choice keeper, Aidan Davison is back in contention after injury and the U's will have to choose whether to drop Dean Gerken who has deputised ably.
Kevin McLeod and Richard Garcia are both also available for selection after recovering from injuries
Big Chris Iwelumo is well known to Stoke fans. He made over 50 appearances for the Potters and scored 23 goals before joining Brighton in 2004. He has made his mark at Layer Road, already scoring ten goals this season and will be relishing his first opportunity to play against his old club.
Danny Higginbotham and Salif Diao are early doubts as both are still recovering from injuries in last week's match against QPR.
Clint Hill will fill the vacant defensive slot since Andy Griffin has returned to Portsmouth.
Since recovering from injury several weeks ago, Hill has had little opportunity to break into Stoke's rock-solid defence. With Griffin's return to Portsmouth (even if it's only temporary) he now has a chance to show the manager that he can carry on where Griff has left off.
The two teams have not met since 2002. But in the previous eight matches, the Potters have only lost once and won five.
Stoke to win by 1-0 and just keep their clean sheet record going.
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 15 2006
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