Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Monday December 31 2007
1st January 2008
Stoke will be looking to kick off 2008 with three points after completing the first three games of the Christmas and New Year period, picking up a creditable five points in the process.
With reserve keeper, Russell Hoult, absent after his self-sacrifice at Home Park on Saturday, it will be a quick return for Steve Simonsen, who had been dropped for some uncharacteristic poor displays over Christmas - especially at Barnsley on Boxing Day. Hopefully this will have given the number one choice a New Year wake-up call and he'll be raring to go.
With Hoult suspended for three games, a question mark surrounds who will cover Simonsen on the bench. Andy Wilkinson's half substitution on Saturday due to injury may pave the way for a start for Gaby Zakuani, but other than that it should be the starting eleven that have battled through the Christmas period. No news yet on the match fitness of new signing Salif Diao.
Lawrence has been a powerhouse in midfield for the Potters in recent weeks, culminating in his deserved hat-trick at Oakwell on Boxing Day.
Fraizer Campbell will be missing after picking up a hamstring injury so Saturday's match winner against the Owls, Dean Windass, is expected to start in his place. Sam Ricketts should be available despite also having trouble with a hamstring.
Even though he is 37 years old, Windass is the Tigers' top scorer with eight goals and his current contract will keep him at the KC Stadium beyond his 40th birthday.
Rory Delap's half-time goal at the KC back in September should have been enough to give the Potters all three points, but a fight back from the Tigers who brought on veteran, Jay-Jay Okocha meant that we had to settle for a point.
Sunday 6th Jan: Newcastle United (home) kick-off: 6pm (FA Cup on BBC1)
Saturday 12th Jan: Ipswich (away) kick-off: 3pm
Saturday 19th Jan: Preston (home) kick-off: 3pm
Date:Monday December 31 2007
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