Stoke City look to end their City Ground hoodoo

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Stoke City travel east to face high-flying Nottingham Forest in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday (3PM kick-off), having not won at the City Ground for 25 years.

The last time the Potters secured victory in West Bridgford was in 1993, when a brace from Mark Stein and a goal from Dave Regis, the younger brother of the late Cyrille, gave Stoke a 3-2 win.

Since then Forest have won five of their last six encounters at home to the Potters, and the home side have already got the better of Gary Rowett’s team so far this season with a 3-2 victory in the League Cup third round.

Despite succumbing to yet another draw at the Bet365 Stadium against Middlesborough, Stoke have been well-travelled as of late, winning two and drawing one of their last three away games – as many as they had in their previous 24 on the road (W2 D10 L12).

Formidable force

However their opponents have been a formidable force at home so far this season, having lost just one of their last 11 Championship home games.

If their form wasn’t impressive enough, Aitor Karanka’s side have yet to draw a blank at the City Ground, scoring in every home game and the performances from Lewis Grabban have been an embodiment of their goalscoring prowess – the former Bournemouth striker has notched in nine goals in his last nine appearances.

It will be the fifth encounter between manager’s Rowett and Karanka, with all four previous games between the duo ending as draws.

Despite Nottingham’s home superiority and healthy league position, Stoke City boss Rowett believes his own sides continued improvement will fare them well for tomorrow’s fixture.

And although the Potters currently languish in 15th position, Rowett argues that his side’s poor start to the season masks their true potential.

“When you start the season like we did with two losses and two draws in the first four games then you will be playing catch-up with some teams who have got eight or nine points to your two – that’s the reality.

“Over the last 10 games we have been pretty competitive, and over the last six games we have been even more competitive.

“So you can argue that we’ve had a poor start, and we’ve showed good signs of improvement ever since then in every little period we have been in.”

Injury news

Stoke have been boosted by the return of Erik Pieters and Mame Biram Diouf from injury. Pieters had been sidelined with a light quad issue, whilst Diouf has not featured in the first-team squad since suffering a hamstring injury at the start of September.

Tom Ince now remains to be the only long-term absentee for Rowett, with the winger currently undergoing surgery for a hernia problem.

Forest will have the former Sunderland player Jack Colback available for the fixture, with the influential midfielder serving a one-match ban for receiving five bookings over the season.

 

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