Stoke goalkeeper Joe Bursik will make his debut for Michael O’Neill’s Stoke side tomorrow who look to move into the top six against a Huddersfield side with have just one win in their last five games.
It’s been a whirlwind week for the 20-year-old, who on the back of earning his first cap for the England U21’s this week was recalled from his loan at Doncaster Rovers following the news that Angus Gunn would be ruled out after suffering ankle ligament in training in the week.
With Gunn already replacing long-term absentee Adam Davies, O’Neill has opted against the decision to make an emergency loan signing or call up youngsters Blondy Nna Noukeu and Nathan Broome, instead fast-tracking Bursik to stake a claim and compete for a place as the Potters’ number one.
Jacob Brown– Stoke
Summer signing Jacob Brown has taken his time to adapt to life in Staffordshire but after scoring the third goal in a convincing 3-0 win over league leaders Reading in the final game before the international break.
The 22-year-old’s last three appearances have come off the bench however, Brown could be in line for a start at the Bet365 Stadium.
Harry Toffolo – Huddersfield
The Huddersfield full-back has been ever-present for Carlos Coberan’s team, featuring in all 11 appearances this year and will be faced with the task to help his Terriers return to winning form.
Originally brought to the John Smith’s Stadium by former manager Danny Cowley from Lincoln City in January, Toffolo has emerged as one of the star performers and will need to have another strong game to get the win.
James McClean will be out of contention for Michael O’Neill’s side after he tested positive for coronavirus midweek.
Fellow midfielder Jordan Thompson is also likely to play no part after he missed Northern Ireland’s Nations League 1-1 draw against Romania on Wednesday.
The game will also come too soon for Joe Allen and Ryan Shawcross who are both not match-fit despite training with the squad and will play at Under-23 level first to regain fitness before being reconsidered for selection.
Stoke Predicted Line-Up: Bursik; Smith, Souttar, Batth, Fox; Campbell, Mikel, Oakley-Boothe, Ince; Powell, Fletcher.
For the visitors it is expected that Coberan will keep the same starting 11 from the Terriers’ 1-1 draw with Luton a fortnight ago, with no injury concerns to report.
Huddersfield Predicted Line-Up: Hamer; Pipa, Stearman, Sarr, Toffolo; Eiting, Hogg, O’Brien; Diakhaby, Campbell, Koroma.
Last Time Out
Huddersfield 2-5 Stoke 1st January 2020
Last year saw the first fixture of the new year provide contrasting emotions for either team as Stoke romped to a 5-2 victory away from home.
Vokes’ finish was cancelled out shortly after the interval, where a Danny Batth own goal and Steve Mounie effort turned the game on its head.
Upon the news that goalkeeper Bursik would definitely be making his debut at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday, Northern Irishman O’Neill believes that the 20-year-old is ready for the challenge.
He said: It’s a huge opportunity. I think we were quite restricted really in the fact we were only allowed an emergency loan because Joe wasn’t at the club – because Joe would be classed as a senior goalkeeper, having played more than five first team games.
“We were only allowed an emergency goalkeeper from an EFL club and working on the basis that no one is going to give you their first team goalkeeper in this situation, we were fortunate to be able to take the first team goalkeeper from Doncaster.
It’s a big opportunity for him. He’s a very good young goalkeeper who has played this season at Doncaster, played for England under-21s in mid-week and played league football last season.
“We have total trust and faith in him, and I have no doubts that he has the confidence and attributes to deal with the situation.”