Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday February 2 2007
The Shrimpers arrive at the Brit on Saturday fresh from a surprise 3-1 victory at Birmingham, but hopefully the Potters will be able to give them a battering.
Stoke will unveil four new signings with Lee Hendrie and Jonathan Fortune likely to start and Russell Hoult and Gabriel Zakuani on the bench. The presence of Hoult will give Steve Simonsen his first taste of competition for the no 1 berth since the departure of Ed de Goey at the end of last season. With the club expecting a crowd in excess of 20,000 after a successful £5 ticket offer there should be a great atmosphere.
Tony Pulis has told his team to watch out for the Shrimpers after their win on Tuesday night: 'We had the game watched and I was told they did exceptionally well and played with no fear. They have had some good results recently and I don't think the game on Tuesday was a one off.'
Danny Higginbotham gets the captain's armband with the departure of Duberry on Wednesday. Dominic Matteo is still struggling with a calf strain picked up at Fulham last weekend and unlikely to play, but Andy Griffin should be fit after recovering from a slight groin strain. Jonathan Fortune should slot in well to Duberry's position in central defence with Lee Hendrie returning to his customary position on the wing. Ricardo Fuller and Mamade Sidibe will be up front and it will good to see if Hendrie can conjure up some surprises for the Southend defence to give the Potters' front men some chances on goal - something that was desperately lacking on Tuesday night.
Take your pick this week - Hendrie or Fortune. Fans will be coming to see how the new and returning players fit in.
Confidence will be high in Southend this week, even though they lie in bottom place. They signed Richie Foran from Motherwell in midweek who will have his debut at the Brit. Adam Barrett is suspended which will allow former Crewe player, Efe Sodje a place in the starting eleven. Midfield player, Alan McCormack is a doubt after limping off in their game against Birmingham.
It's no secret that Tony Pulis would have liked to sign the 23 year old striker and although several teams are reported to have shown interest in him, Southend managed to hold on to him throughout the transfer window.
Our first match of the season will be remembered for two things - Southend's first win in the Championship at our expense and Luke Chadwick spending a night in a Southend hospital after collapsing on the pitch. Since the 1-0 win they have not had too much their own way, but have been in good form during January - only losing to Derby in the league.
About time for the Potters to change all that....
Sun 11th Feb: Birmingham (away) kick-off: 11.30am live on SKY
Sat 17th Feb: Luton Town (home) kick-off: 3pm
Wed 21st Feb: Derby County (away) kick-off: 7.45pm
Mon 26th Feb: Barnsley (home) kick-off: 7.45pm live on SKY
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Date:Friday February 2 2007
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