Date: 19th September 2017 at 8:10am
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Assistant manager Mark Bowen has insisted nobody in the Stoke City camp is looking ahead to the weekend’s tie against Chelsea – the only focus is Bristol City tonight.

Heading to the South West for tonight’s EFL Cup third round tie at Ashton Gate against Lee Johnson’s City side, Bowen knows it will be a tough test against an in form Championship side and he knew if our focus wasn’t right, this was a potential banana skin tie.

Speaking to the Official Website as he took over pre game duties from Mark Hughes for a bit, Bowen explained that our first focus for now was Cup progression, then we’ll deal with Chelsea.

‘First and foremost we want to get through the tie and hopefully in 90 minutes because extra-time might compromise our ability to recover ahead of another important game against Chelsea on Saturday. But we`re not really thinking about Chelsea at this stage – playing Bristol City is, as it stands, the most important game of our season.’

Bowen went on to say that the League Cup is a promising route for a day out at Wembley and whilst we’re in it, we’re in it to win it.

‘The Carabao Cup has fewer rounds than the FA Cup and if we can get through this one then we`re in the last 16 of a major cup competition and there`s a big prize on the horizon. As we`ve found out in the past, if you can churn out two or three results in this competition you find yourself in the quarters or semis and you can almost smell Wembley. It`s important we treat this competition – and the game against Bristol City, who are decent opposition – with the respect they deserve and do everything we can to progress further.’

Speaking more about the opposition, with our unbeaten in four run coming to an end against Newcastle, Bristol City are unbeaten in the last seven and overcame Watford in the previous round.

‘We`ve had good reports about Bristol City. In their last three games they`ve won three and drawn three and they knocked Watford out of the Carabao Cup in the last round with a slightly weakened side. Everything we`ve read, seen and heard about them is that they are a young, fresh side with lots of legs, energy and desire, so first and foremost we`ve got to match that. We`ll go with the strongest side we possibly can and make sure that our mentality is right. We have to realise that it will be a tough game in a challenging environment, but if we do things properly and professionally it will give us a platform for our match winners to go and win the game for us.’

Adding.

‘Doing well in the cup competitions has always been a priority for us and we all felt it last season when we went out of both cups early on. We were caught out last season and don`t intend that to happen again this time.’

In terms of team news, Geoff Cameron is obviously still sidelined and Ryan Shawcross won’t be risked with his back issue, but decisions will have been taken after his press conference.

‘We haven`t nailed down a side yet but what I can say is that no fit first teamer will be left behind. Everyone who is fit and available will be making the trip to Bristol.’

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