Stoke City Vs Blackburn Rovers, Sat 6 Feb 2010

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Stoke captain Adboulaye Faye faces a race against time to be fit for the visit of Blackburn to the Britannia Stadium.

After overcoming a calf problem, Faye was troubled by back spasms in Monday night's game at Sunderland and will undergo a late fitness test.

New signing Asmir Begovic will be included in the squad after the goalkeeper completed his move from Portsmouth on transfer deadline day.

Tony Pulis has pledged to keep driving Stoke forward on the eve of his 300th game in charge of the team.

Having prevented the Potters from slipping into the football league's third tier, Pulis was then sacked in 2005 after falling out with the club's Icelandic owners and spent a year as manager of Plymouth Argyle.

But Potters chairman Peter Coates brought Pulis back to the club in 2006 and it has been a success story ever since, culminating in promotion to the top flight at the end of the 2007/08 campaign and an impressive 12th-place finish last year.

Stoke are currently occupying 12th spot this season as well and with games in hand on the teams immediately above them - including Blackburn - the club could be about to make the next step up by hitting the top 10 between now and May.

Pulis is thinking even further ahead though and has warned his players against complacency as they look to establish themselves as a force in the Premier League.

"It's been lovely. Both spells have been different and they have been enjoyable in lots of respects - but I still have a job to do, a massive job," Pulis said.

"We have got to stay in this Premier League for at least three years, like I keep telling everybody. We mustn't get blase about it.

"If we stay in the Premier League for three years then I think the football club will really push on, but it needs that base.

"The 300 games have been fantastic, to be able to say that. It's a great club and it's a tough club to manage, but I wouldn't have it any other way."

Boss Sam Allardyce has confirmed Vince Grella will be part of the Blackburn squad travelling to Stoke following the midfielder's recovery from a thigh problem.

Grella has not played in the first team since sustaining the injury against Tottenham in December.

Lars Jacobsen is also back in training after his thigh injury but is not yet ready to return to competitive action.

David Dunn (calf) remains sidelined and new signing Yildiray Basturk is still working on his match fitness and will not feature at the Britannia Stadium.

Allardyce is hoping his side start to get some luck on the road when they visit Stoke.

Rovers have managed just one away win this season in the Barclays Premier League and have claimed just six points from a possible 36.

Allardyce said: "You would look at our away record results-wise and say 'what a poor season Blackburn Rovers are having away from home'.

"But on reflection, the performances have not been that bad at all."

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Stoke City
Blackburn Rovers
Premier League

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