Stoke City’s Europa League journey continues tomorrow night with a trip to Dynamo Kiev for the Group E clash.
The Potters have made an excellent start to their Barclays Premier League campaign and they certainly won’t fear anyone on their travels, even a club with the European pedigree of Kiev.
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And with everything still fresh and exciting for City – Tony Pulis’ side are in the first round of a major European club competition for the first time since 1974/75 – they are not expected to make any changes from the side that recorded an excellent 1-0 win over Liverpool at the weekend.
One player not available, however, is former England centre-back Jonathan Woodgate, with Pulis leaving him out of Stoke’s 25-man squad. The Potters boss has concerns over Woodgate’s ability to play a full part in a gruelling Europa League campaign after his torrid run with injuries in recent years.
After all, there will be plenty of air miles for City in Europe; they will be travelling a total distance of 11,000 miles when making their away trips for the group stages, with visits to Besiktas in Turkey and Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel as well as Kiev.
For the hosts, an emphatic 4-0 win away to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in their latest domestic league contest means they are also likely to be unchanged.
Boss Yuri Semin may, however, be tempted to include former AC Milan and Chelsea star Andrei Shevchenko for his big match experience. Even though his best years are probably behind him, Shevchenko still has that nous; that ‘X Factor’ that you need at the highest level.
It will be certainly be another big test for Pulis’ ever-improving outfit in the 18:00 BST kick-off. But you wouldn’t bet against them making the long trip home with some reward.