Its been a decent start to the season for Tony Pulis and his Stoke side as they remain unbeaten in the Premiership after two draws and take a one goal lead into their Europa League second leg tie with FC Thun at the Britannia Stadium tonight.
Kenwyne Jones rescued a point for the Potters in stoppage time at Carrow Road last week and after a decent home draw with Premiership title contenders Chelsea the signs are good for all at the Potteries.
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Although not exactlty setting the world alight with their flare and attacking football Tony Pulis has moved shrewdly and built a side that has maintained its Premiership status, and it appears the foundations are now in place for the side to develop in strength, with rumours of a moves for Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips as we approach the end of the transfer window.
Stoke face FC Thun after Danny Pugh’s strike secured a single goal advantage coming into tonight’s game. It was a difficult trip for Tony Pulis’s side after trips to Croatia were followed up with a game in Switzerland on their plastic pitch, and victory into the next round of the Europa League tonight would see the side facing another six additional games to play this side of January.
There are already worries with strain and injury as Stoke have already played five competititive matches so far this season in all competitions, and it is clear that Tony Pulis is putting extra emphasis on recovery and recouperation, with the side facing West Brom only three days later on Sunday.
Robert Huth and midfielder Matthew Etherington will miss the game through suspension, while Rory Delap and Jermaine Pennant are both struggling with knocks. Andy Wilkinson and Ryan Shotton are both competing for a place in the back four, while Danny Pugh should come in for Etherington.
Kenwyne Jones is once again expected to lead the line.
For FC Thun, they remain top of the Swiss League and remain unbeaten in their domestic competition, although all at the Britannia Stadium will be disappointed if Stoke do not progress comfortably to the group stages of the Europa League proper.