Date: 17th December 2008 at 9:58pm
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There was some good and bad news as Stoke City prepare to meet Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

With Rovers appointing Sam Allardyce today, Stoke face a battle on Saturday as Rovers will be keen to reverse their poor recent form in front of their new boss. It’s a quirk of fate that Allardyce’s last match as manager of Newcastle was the 0-0 draw in the FA Cup at the Brit back in January and his first back in the Prem will again be against Stoke.

Meanwhile, Liam Lawrence has declared himself fit for the game at Ewood Park for the first time since his bizarre ankle injury back in September. We’ll have to see if Tony Pulis throws him straight back on or, as is more likely, gives him a place on the bench.

Mamady Sidibe, who injured his knee during the match against Fulham on Saturday, will be out until early in the New Year. That’s better than expected after he had to be stretchered off after just two minutes amid initial fears of a far longer lay-off.

Rory Delap will take yet another pain-killing injection before the game on Saturday as he continues to suffer from a painful shoulder injury that has prevented him from exploiting his long throws in the last few games.

There’s no news yet of Dave Kitson or Ryan Shawcross. Both suffered injuries during the 1-0 victory over West Brom nearly a month ago. Apparently, they’re back in training but there has been no announcement of when they’ll be fit for a return to first team action.

Andy Griffin and Salif Diao are another two casualties having to queue for the physio after they both missed out on the Fulham match last Saturday.

Unless Tony Pulis can return some to full fitness in three days time, he’s going to have his work cut out drawing up a starting eleven with challenging Christmas fixtures against Manchester United and West Ham on the horizon.