Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Saturday February 10 2007
Stoke will travel to Birmingham on Sunday for the televised clash with the Blues with three of their influential midfield missing.
The 11.30am kick-off has also attracted controversy after originally being scheduled for a Saturday noon kick-off with premium ticket prices of up to £30 for Stoke fans, then moved in the last couple of weeks to Sunday to accommodate Sky TV.
Potters' first team coach, Sam Ellis thinks that this is as good a time as any to be visiting St. Andrews: 'They are in a bit of turmoil at the moment, they have sold Matthew Upson who Steve Bruce didn't want to lose and that could play on their minds.'
He added: 'They have had a bit of a dip in form recently, they are still a very good side but I am confident we can pick something up.'
In contrast to the five wins and a draw that they picked up in December, January turned out to be a bit of damp squib in the league (if you skip over their 5-1 trashing of Newcastle in the FA Cup) with the Blues losing first at Ipswich and then being turned over 3-1 by Southend at home. Last week they did manage to salvage their first point of the year away to Colchester.
Gary McSheffrey looks set to start despite not training this week after getting a knock to his knee. Cameron Jermome looks set to return to action. Mikael Forssell is still out with a long-term knee injury.
The in-form striker moved from Coventry in August last year, leaving his former club wallowing in the doldrums and has scored 15 times (12 in the League) since arriving at St. Andrews.
Lee Hendrie, Salif Diao and Darel Russell are suspended after all receiving their fifth yellow cards of the season at last week's disappointing draw with Southend. Dominic Matteo, John Eustace and Lee Martin will benefit and fill their places in midfield. Andy Griffin has been struggling with an ankle injury that he picked up last Saturday but should be fit to start.
The Charlton defender is on loan at the Brit for the remainder of the season and is keen to repay the trust that Tony Pulis has shown in giving him a chance of some regular football. He told the official site: 'I haven't come here to sit around and mess about I want to push this club on, and I feel that we definitely have a good shot at reaching the play-offs and I'm very excited about it.'
The previous meeting at the Brit back in those warm summer days last August ended 0-0, but was memorable for a great penalty save from Steve Simonsen.
Sat 17th Feb: Luton (home) kick-off: 3pm
Wed 21st Feb: Derby (away) kick-off: 7.45pm
Mon 26th Feb: Barnsley (home) kick-off: 7.45pm (on SKY TV)
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Date:Saturday February 10 2007
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