Stoke City Vs Manchester United, Sun 24 Oct 2010

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Stoke striker Ricardo Fuller will undergo a late fitness test to see if can play any part in Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United at the Britannia Stadium.

Fuller has had problems with a recurring shoulder injury and was rushed to hospital during the 2-1 defeat at Bolton last weekend following an awkward fall.

Aside from long-term absentee Mamady Sidibe, Potters boss Tony Pulis has no other injury concerns, but may give a chance to goalkeeper Asmir Begovic after Thomas Sorensen made an error at the Reebok Stadium in the build-up to a goal.

Pulis has paid tribute to the Manchester United academy which provided him with his current captain Ryan Shawcross.

Shawcross, who came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford before joining the Potters on loan and then on a permanent basis in the 2007-2008 campaign, faces his old club as skipper and with last season's call-up to the England squad to his name.

The 23-year-old is one of several Stoke players who were on United's books at a young age and Pulis feels the quality of their development there has been clear to see.

"Ryan will enjoy it because he is playing in the Premier League, he is playing for a good club and he will be playing against a great club - and the club that gave him his start," Pulis said.

"I have to say, you look at the players we have taken who were at Manchester United as young players, and their attitudes are absolutely fantastic.

"We've got Danny Pugh, Danny Higginbotham and Shawcross and they are absolutely great lads - it is testament to the way Manchester United bring their kids up."

Although they have pulled off plenty of impressive results in the top flight since their promotion from the Championship just over two years ago, Stoke are yet to earn a point from four encounters with United.

They go into tomorrow's clash at the Britannia Stadium having failed to score a single goal in any of those games while shipping 12, and Pulis is hoping his side's luck is about to change.

"The two clubs that we have really not managed to break into have been Chelsea and Manchester United, and over the last two and a half years they have been the leaders in our league," Pulis said.

"It would be nice if we could do it on Sunday, but I certainly won't be taking anything for granted. We are going to have to have the maximum from everyone - we won't be able to carry a single player.

"I think we have been closer to Chelsea - we just haven't had that little bit of luck, so fingers crossed on Sunday we will get it."

Wayne Rooney suffered an ankle injury in training on Tuesday as the storm over his United future raged and has now been ruled out for three weeks.

Ryan Giggs (hamstring) and Jonny Evans (hip) are also sidelined as United attempt to pick up their first away win of the season.

Chris Smalling would love a chance to face Stoke's battery of aerial power.

After continuing his impressive start to life at Manchester United with an effective performance in Wednesday's Champions League triumph over Bursaspor at Old Trafford, Smalling could be forgiven for wanting to swerve a date with Kenwyne Jones.

A trip to the Britannia Stadium hardly represents a nice day out for defenders, especially when Rory Delap is winding up to take one of his notoriously long throws.

But for Smalling, it would represent an opportunity to relish. And he is certain Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand feel exactly the same way.

"I played at Stoke last year with Fulham," he recalled. "You get knocked about a bit and there is an aerial bombardment.

"Those long throws are an obvious danger but I relish that type of challenge.

"If Delap is going to put it into the box, any of the centre-backs we have here will want to go and attack it.

"You want to be the dominant force over your striker."

A bit of turbulence in the Stoke attack should be coped with easily compared to the disturbance that has had to be encountered off the field at United this week.

Now Rooney's future is assured for the next five years, some clarity and certainty has been brought to the situation.

For Smalling, it was a first experience of what life at Old Trafford is all about.

"Sir Alex is a real joy to work with," said the England Under-21 star.

"He doesn't rest on his laurels. He has won more trophies than any other manager but he is still there, out on the training field.

"Just to see him gives real enthusiasm to the young lads.@

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Stoke City
Premier League
Manchester United

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