Nearly 3,000 travelling fans, up to 600 via closed circuit TV link at the Brit and countless thousands glued to their radios will all be willing the Potters on for one of their biggest games in many years at St. James Park for the FA Cup Third round replay against Newcastle United.
The Magpies’ current managerial predicament has been occupying the national press since the goalless draw with the Potters at the Brit a week last Sunday and their humiliating 6-0 defeat at Old Trafford last weekend has done nothing to lift the gloom on Tyneside. Whether all this works for or against the Potters remains to be seen but you can bet that the Stoke team will be as fired up for this one as they were for the first leg.
The worry for Stoke is that with Newcastle’s current situation they run the risk of not being seen as the total underdog, which was emphasised by Arsene Wenger’s proclamation on the Gunners’ website that ‘Stoke look to be a very good side. Sometimes in the Cup it is not easier to play at home but more difficult and they look to be good on the break.’
‘It is difficult to predict who we will play against.’
Newcastle United Team News:
Newcastle’s caretaker manager, Nigel Pearson has a midfield headache with Nicky Butt and Alan Smith both suspended for the match and four players away at the African Cup of Nations. Jailbird, Joey Barton is back in training but will not feature.
Player to watch: Shay Given
This is the man that the Potters will have to beat if they want to face Arsenal in the next round. Veteran keeper, Given was instrumental in keeping the Magpies in the cup after the match at the Brit.
Stoke City Team News:
Former Magpie, Andy Griffin has been ruled out as he was not registered with Stoke at the time of the first match ten days ago. Andy Wilkinson and Carl Dickinson both picked up knocks in the game at Ipswich but should be fit to play. Any doubts around Ricardo Fuller’s fitness are considered to be diversionary tactics by the Potters. Rory Delap may play if he considered fit after returning to action on Saturday and Salif Diao is likely to feature on the team sheet in some capacity for the first time since signing last month.
Mamady Sidibe is away on international cup duty for Mali.
Player to watch: Ricardo Fuller
Stoke’s talisman striker should be relishing another chance to put one over on Newcastle. We’d expect Richard Cresswell to play alongside him again with Big Mama away
Match Facts & Stats
Uriah Rennie is the man in black. I always think we do quite well when Rennie is in charge (he last officiated in Stoke’s 3-1 win over QPR in November), but maybe that’s me being too optimistic?
Sat 19th Jan: Preston (home) kick-off: 3pm
Sat 26th Jan: FA Cup 4th round (?????)
Tue 29th Jan: Charlton (away) kick-off: 7.45pm