O’Neill targets composure in testing week

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Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill aims to keep a cool head as the Potters prepare for two away games in four days, starting with a trip to Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday.

The hosts are one of the outside teams vying for a place in the play-offs, just five points off the top six after just one defeat in eight, despite losing star man Bradley Dack to an ACL injury in December.

However, Stoke come into the game buoyant after a convincing victory against Cardiff City at the weekend, courtesy of a Callum Paterson own goal and Joe Allen’s fourth of the season.

O’Neill’s side are struggling to find consistent form, letting slip a 2-0 lead by conceding four at QPR in their last away day, but the 50-year-old is determined not to let the rollercoaster get the better of him.

He said: “You can react to results and make decisions which are based more on emotions, but the key is to try and be analytical in terms of what tactics we use and the right personnel for them.

“You also want good form; we lost poor goals in the previous week [against QPR], but we looked at putting that right, and now to continue being a threat further forward.

 “Blackburn are in good form; they’ve corrected their blip and they’ve got good consistency in the squad, Adam Armstrong has been excellent for them.

“We know what to expect, but we have to make sure we are resilient and difficult to beat, and then on the night we will cause them problems as well.”

The Potters have little news on the injury front ahead of their trip to Lancashire, Stephen Ward is still with the medical team, but Liam Lindsay returned to training today and will be assessed before Wednesday.

The manager added: “These weeks are testing, particularly with back to back away games, but we have good athleticism in the squad.

“Its been a challenge for me as well; I’m quite detailed when I look back over games, but I’m aware the players need time to recover and focus on the next one.

“The coaching team have been brilliant in making sure that the team we field midweek will be as well prepared as the team that goes on the pitch on Saturday.”

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