Stoke City v Hull City, Sat 3 Apr 2010

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Stoke manager Tony Pulis is concerned about the fitness of three of his players as they prepare to face Hull at the Britannia Stadium.

Ryan Shawcross remains doutbful with an ankle injury while Abdoulaye Faye and Dave Kitson both suffered knee problems in the victory against West Ham.

Midfielder Dean Whitehead is available again after suspension with Pulis looking for his side to top the 40-point mark.

Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen has given an insight into the mentality that looks set to keep the club in the Premier League for a third successive season.

Stoke are continuing to evolve and have not suffered from "second-season syndrome" after winning promotion in 2009.

"What the manager and players have done well is realising that, just because we stayed in the Premier League, we had to do even better this season, " Sorensen said.

"We have improved as a footballing side, especially away from home. Last year we struggled in a lot of games because we invited pressure onto us.

"With the success, the confidence rises. While the manager has allowed the players to play a bit more, he has been good at not letting the attitude slip.

"Sometimes players can say we have achieved it now, we've proved we are good enough. Then suddenly slight changes in your game creep in. You think you have achieved what there is to achieve in the game.

"I have been in the game long enough to know every season you start from scratch. Whatever you achieved last year, you cannot use that in the season to come.

"We have done that well this year to make sure everyone understood that it would take more effort than last year to stay in the league."

Ibrahima Sonko will be forced back onto the sidelines against his parent club.

His place is likely to be taken by Andy Dawson after he returned to training following a hamstring injury while Caleb Folan (knee) and Bernard Mendy (illness) are also fit.

Stephen Hunt is still struggling with a foot problem and is unlikely to feature.

Craig Fagan is desperate for Hull to end their away drought - so people will have something else to talk about.

The Tigers are without a win on the road all season and head to Stoke having taken only four of their 27 points away from the KC Stadium.

They looked set to break their duck at Portsmouth two weeks ago in Iain Dowie's first game in charge when they led 2-1 going into the final couple of minutes only for the hosts to net twice.

Fagan said: "We're looking forward to getting to the game because we want to get rid of this away hoodoo that everyone keeps going on about. The lads have always been confident we can go and get points, we just haven't done so.

"It doesn't weigh on your mind, it just gets mentioned week after week now because it's gone on so long. We just need to get it over and done with then people will have to think of other things to ask questions about.

"We're in the place we are in the league because we haven't won enough away games and you can't stay in the league just on your home form. We need an away win, and it will take some pressure off our home form if we do."

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Stoke City
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Hull City

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