Stoke City v Cardiff Preview

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Michael O’Neil’s side will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing 4-2 loss at QPR as the Potters let a 2-0 lead slip at Loftus Road.

Tomorrow, the Northern Irishman will go up against Neil Harris. His Cardiff City counterpart was previously linked with the Stoke City job after the sacking of Nathan Jones, but Harris opted to start his new managerial adventure in South Wales following his axe as Millwall boss.

The Bet365 faithful will be wary of Cardiff’s impressive performances of late in recent games as the Bluebirds are now seven games unbeaten in the league.

However, Harris is aware of his opposite man in the dugout. “Anybody can see it’s a tough job he has really taken on” the 42-year-old stated. “Stoke are a big club with a passionate fan base and we have to rise to the occasion. I think it’s a really good game for us and a good week for us.”

On the opposite technical area, O’Neil is conscious of tomorrow’s opponents.

He said: “They’re in a good run of form. They’re in a comfortable position and can even push for a top six position.”

Despite the Northern Irishman’s praise for tomorrow’s opponents, he insists that his side will need to perform regardless of the opposition.

He said: “Our focus has to be on ourselves, our own performance, I thought we play very well here against Charlton, for large portions of the game against Preston we played well too so that’s what we have to draw on in terms of level of performance tomorrow.”

If Stoke were to gain three points on their playoff-hopeful visitors, they could potentially move six points adrift of the relegation zone with Wigan Athletic currently sat in 18th on 31 points.

Sam Vokes could return to the starting lineup after sitting on the bench at the start of last weekend’s game against QPR.

Former Bolton loanee Thibaud Verliden is out for the rest of the season due to an ACL injury picked up against Preston North End in their last home game whilst key man James McClean (knee) is ruled out.

Whilst for the visitors Neil Harris is expected to name an unchanged lineup from their game against Huddersfield Town but central midfielder Joe Ralls is a doubt whereas Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Isaac Vassell will not travel with the squad to North Staffordshire.

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