Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Friday January 18 2008
29th January 2007
Stoke will look to bounce back from the poor defeat to Newcastle United on Wednesday and face Preston at the Brit on Saturday. The Lilywhites currently languish in the relegation zone but got a 1-0 win against Watford at Deepdale last week to lift the gloom slightly.
The Potters could do with a win after a run of four league draws, but with three away trips and only one home match in that time they can still be seen as creditable performances.
Preston manager, Alan Irvine is wary of the former Preston player, Ricardo Fuller and revealed that he was once an Everton target whilst at Deepdale. He told the PNE official site: 'I go back a number of years when he was playing here and we were watching him very carefully for Everton but he suffered a terrible injury and that put him out for a long time. He looks in great form just now, he's been a real threat.'
Stoke now have three former Lilywhites amongst their ranks in Danny Pugh, Ricardo Fuller and Richard Cresswell who are all available following the Newcastle match. Doubts still surround Andy Wilkinson, Carl Dickinson and Rory Delap but this may allow a third debut for Andy Griffin and a second debut for Salif Diao.
Shawcross's permanent signing has pleased the fans and it shows the real commitment and belief from both the Chairman and the players as it was revealed that the Potters had beaten off four clubs from the Prem and Championship and Ryan had turned down a new contract from Man United.
Former Potter loanee, Paul Gallagher has returned to Blackburn after his loan period ended so will not feature. Neil Mellor, who came off the bench to score last week's winner against Watford, may get a chance to start. Former Potter, Lewis Neil will also start.
The 22 year old midfielder has just completed a £800k move from West Brom. The former Baggie made his name at Burnley before moving south in 2005
Stuart Atwell arrives at the Brit fresh from officiating at Havant and Waterlooville's FA Cup triumph over Swansea in midweek. His only previous Championship match was at Sheffield United on Boxing Day.
Tue 29th Jan: Charlton (away) kick-off: 7.45pm
Sat 2nd Feb: Cardiff (home) kick-off: 12.30pm ** note time **
Sat 9th Feb: Wolves (away) kick-off: 3pm
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Date:Friday January 18 2008
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