Stoke City Vs Fulham: Big Match preview

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Defender Ryan Shawcross returns to the Stoke squad to face Fulham at the Britannia Stadium after serving a one-match suspension.

Fellow centre-back Abdoulaye Faye and midfielder Salif Diao, rested for Saturday's FA Cup victory over York, will also be brought back.

Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen is hopeful of being fit despite being forced off at half-time against the Minstermen with a finger injury.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis believes the Britannia Stadium's famed raucous atmosphere is working against them when it comes to getting favourable decisions from referees.

The Potters' self-styled 'loudest fans in England' certainly played their part in the club's survival last season, creating an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams.

However, Pulis thinks that often counts against them when it comes to the big decisions.

"We could have had a lot more penalties that we haven't been given and that is a disappointment for me," said the Stoke boss.

"I think we have been let down at times by decisions that have been very poor - especially at the Britannia where the crowd has a reputation for being very ferocious and referees [think they] have got to stand up to it.

"It is okay standing up to it but you still have to make the right decisions and I think at times that has certainly played a part in them not making the right decisions."


Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has no fresh injury concerns.

Brede Hangeland remains a doubt with a knee injury but Andy Johnson (groin) and Paul Konchesky (back) are available after coming through Saturday's FA Cup win over Swindon unscathed.

Damien Duff, Chris Baird, and captain Danny Murphy will return after being rested at the weekend while John Pantsil is a long-term absentee with a knee injury.

Fulham can close the gap on eighth-placed Birmingham to two points with a victory against Tony Pulis' side, who are without a league win in six.

Stoke arguably represent an easier challenge than the three teams Fulham played over the festive period - Tottenham, Chelsea and last year's champions Manchester United, who they beat 3-0.

That does not mean that Hodgson will be taking the Potters lightly, however.

"There's some really important Premier League points at stake for both teams," he said.

"Stoke have been very good at home recently, they have had one or two blips but they are a tough team to beat in the Britannia Stadium.

"They have a style of football which is well ingrained in them, well coached and we'll have to defend at least as well as we did against Swindon, if not better, to keep them out."

Hodgson will welcome back Damien Duff, Danny Murphy and Chris Baird, who were all rested at the weekend.

Paul Konchesky (back) should play after coming through Saturday's game and Chris Smalling will continue to deputise for Brede Hangeland if the Norway defender fails to recover from a knee injury.

Stephen Kelly is likely to keep his place in the absence of John Pantsil, who could be out for the rest of the season with a knee injury he picked up against Chelsea.

Hodgson is not holding out hope of a quick return for the right-back, who met with the club's medical staff at the weekend to assess the full extent of his injury.

"We know from the scan that John has damaged his posterior cruciate ligament so he has a serious injury," said Hodgson.

"There's no hope for me that the medical staff are going to phone me and say it's not as bad as we thought it would be, it's only going to be a couple of weeks.

"What they are talking about is the difference between 10 and maybe 18 weeks so we will have to do without Pantsil for a long time."

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Stoke City
Ryan Shawcross
Premier League

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