Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday August 24 2007
It may be top versus bottom in tomorrow's clash, but at this early stage of the season, places don't really matter but nevertheless, Saints' fans are no doubt nervous that their team has yet to gain a point. Stoke, on the other hand, will be buoyed up by getting maximum points so far this season and are on a nine game unbeaten run and will be looking to ensure that the status quo is maintained by 5pm tomorrow afternoon.
Three Potters players will be making a return to their former club, Ricardo Fuller, Danny Higginbotham and Rory Delap which should make for an interesting match.
Potters' coach, Mark O'Connor said that the team know that Southampton are still a force to be reckoned with this season: 'Southampton are a very good side, and despite their lowly league position I fully expect them to still be a major force this season.'
'We go there full of confidence following two great league results and I am anticipating a very open game.'
New signing and former Potter, Wayne Thomas, who will be hoping that he can stem the flood of goals, will be in defence. Former Stoke loan player, Kenwyne Jones looks like he will not play after handing in a transfer request amid interest from Derby and Sunderland. But the Potters will need to be on their guard, as George Burley's teams do not normally languish in the lower reaches of the Championship for long.
The former Stoke player has just left Burnley in a £1m deal and this will be his home debut for the Saints but he cautioned his new team mates to be careful of Stoke: 'Stoke are a very physical team and they will pressure us.
'They know how to pass it around too, they aren't just a boom it team who just launch it. They will play in the right areas and it will be a very good game.'
Danny Higginbotham, if deemed fit, will play after Pulis turned down a second offer from Sunderland during the week. The manager is likely to stick to last week's starting front line of Ricardo Fuller and Mama Sidibe, with Ricard Cresswell just behind and Jon Parkin as backup on the bench. Jody Craddock and Ryan Shawcross are likely starters in defence. Clint Hill is available for selection after completing his three match ban after being sent off during the pre-season friendly in Austria last month.
The Jamaican international and former Saint will be raring to go after a great goal against Charlton last week and ready to revenge last season's 1-0 defeat at St Mary's
Last season saw the Potters come back from the 1-0 away defeat to win 2-1 at the Brit with goals from Jon Fortune and Lee Martin.
Sat 1st Sept: Wolves (home) kick-off: 3pm
Sat 15th Sept: Hull (away) kick-off: 3pm
Tue 18th Sept: Barnsley (home) kick-off: 7.45pm
Date:Friday August 24 2007
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