Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday August 10 2007
Stoke City kick-off the new season with a difficult trip to fierce rivals, Cardiff City. The Bluebirds are on a pre-season high after some high profile spending and are expecting a full house. But Stoke will be pleased that they have managed to add two new players to a below strength squad for the opening match.
Gary Megson, standing in for an absent Tony Pulis at the pre-match press conference, commented on the Bluebirds' big summer signing of Robbie Fowler. He told the official site: 'He is a massive signing, it will be different for him and different for the club. Stoke will be going down there with all the focus on them. So it is a good thing really, there will be a big crowd there but Tony will have the players fired up to spoil the party.'
Robbie Fowler looks like missing his own party as the former Liverpool player struggles to recover from a slightly torn thigh muscle. Summer Potters' target, Trevor Sinclair will start along with Tony Capaldi who played for Pulis whilst he was at Plymouth.
With Stoke fielding a weakened midfield compared to last season, Sinclair could be the difference in the middle of the pitch. Up front, Warren Feeney will partner another new signing, Steve MacClean (ex Sheffield Wednesday) unless Fowler is fit.
The Potters travel to South Wales with new loan signing, Ryan Shawcross and the re-signed Dominic Matteo. The untested back four combination should be Higginbotham, Shawcross, Wright and either Buxton or Wilkinson. TP is keeping his cards close to his chest as to who he plays alongside Fuller with Sidibe, Parkin and Cresswell all available, but at least he has the luxury of a nearly 100% fit squad to choose from, with only Broomes unlikely to start.
With only Fuller definitely likely to start, all eyes will be on the Potters front row to see who plays alongside the Jamaican international
Stoke fans will remember last April's trip to Ninian Park as the game that may have denied us a play-off spot. A 90th minute goal from the now departed Chopra leveled the scores after Carl Hoefkens had given us a first half lead.
Tue 14th Aug: Rochdale (away) kick-off: 7.45pm (League Cup)
Sat 18th: Charlton (home) kick-off: 5.20pm (Sky TV)
Sat 25th Aug: Southampton (away) kick-off: 3pm
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Date:Friday August 10 2007
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