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Preview: Stoke City v Blues

Our full match preview ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet Championship fixture against the Potters at the bet365 Stadium (3.00pm kick-off).

Garry Monk on what he is expecting from Stoke City...
"They've definitely picked up recently. They're one of if not the favourite and quite rightly considering the squad that they have. On paper it's packed with huge quality and huge experience. You often see it with the teams that come down, the expectation is to always bounce straight back, especially with a squad like that even more so. But the Championship is never easy and the actual reality of teams bouncing straight back is actually very low because the Championship is such a tough league. It can often be a shock to the system and take a while for teams that come down to to get used to it. From our point of view, this season when we've played against teams that are promotion favourites or promotion candidates we've acquitted ourselves very well. This is another challenge and another opportunity to do exactly like that. We want to show the same again this weekend."

Garry Monk asked if the chance to move above Stoke City with a win would give extra motivation to his players...
"Everything is motivation. If you can add anything in, its always motivation. We just need to show progression and it's game by game and that's how we're taking it. We know how difficult this season is for us and there are going to be some tough times ahead and difficult moments. But the most important thing is how together we are, how much spirit there is, and how much belief there is that and I'm more than confident that with everybody together; including the fans, we'll handle those difficult moments."

Garry Monk on having a sell-out backing of more than 3,200 Blues fans at the bet365 Stadium...
"It's great. We've had so much support this season home and away. We can hear them in those away ends and when we're at home at St. Andrew's and it's great and we're really appreciating that support. The players are thriving off it and we need keep trying to get that stronger and stronger. We're looking forward to it and our challenge is to perform away from home."

Stoke City boss Gary Rowett's comments ahead of the game...
“I believe they (Blues) are unbeaten in eight games, and despite being below us in the table, they have lost fewer games. I have seen many of their matches where they should have won, so it is going to be a tough one for us. It is a club where I had a great time as a manager and a player. Obviously, it ended in a difficult way, but doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the club and the fans. There are lots of staff members still there, and many good people at the club. Garry Monk has gone in there and got their identity back. They are a very strong, physical team, and they counter attack very well – just like when we were there. Of course, there have more strings to their bow though and they have some quality players. About three or four are still there from my time as manager, so I know all about their strengths, but Garry has bought many good players in too that will complement the current squad. You have to remember that we are at home though and we have really good home form. It’s up to us to take the game to them which we will. We will try and attack. We will try and control the game where we can, but it will be a difficult match. I think it will be a tight game. It will be one of those games, similar to those we have had recently where the result is defined by the first goal.”

Stoke City team news...
Stoke had nine players away on international duty and Gary Rowett says here are 'one or two little knocks' but he will give them late fitness assessments. Former Blues goalkeeper Jack Butland is expected to be in goal for the Potters

Blues team news...
Craig Gardner is back in full training after recovering from a knock. Isaac Vassell (hip) is back out running on the grass and it is hoped he will return to full training in the next couple of weeks. David Davis (ankle) remains out.

Last five meetings between Stoke and Blues...
Capital One Cup 29 Oct 2013 Blues 4 Stoke 4
Premier League 12 Feb 2011 Blues 1 Stoke 0
Premier League 09 Nov 2010 Stoke 3 Blues 2
Premier League 28 Dec 2009 Stoke 0 Blues 1
Premier League 22 Aug 2009 Blues 0 Stoke 0

Form guide. Last five Championship fixtures....
Stoke: WLDWW
Blues: DWDDW

Total meetings...
Stoke wins: 42
Blues wins: 32
Draws: 25

Ticket news...
Blues have sold out of our full allocation of 3,261 tickets for this game. Please do not travel unless you have a ticket. Please ensure that you do not lose your tickets as duplicate tickets will not be issued for lost tickets on Saturday at Stoke City Football Club.

BluesTV…
BluesTV will be broadcasting live from St. Andrew's.
UK & EIRE customers will be able to listen to live commentary of Saturday's game with Jon Bell and former Blues midfielder Bryan Hughes.
INTERNATIONAL subscribers can watch the match exclusively live on BluesTV.
If you would like to subscribe to BluesTV, please click here.

Match officials…
Roger East will take charge of Saturday's game. So far this season, the Wiltshire-based official has refereed four game where he has produced 12 yellow cards in all. The last Blues game he refereed was our Sky Bet Championship home fixture against Ipswich Town in March 2018.Blues won that

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