Stoke v Hajduk Split: Big Match Preview

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UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, first leg
Venue: Britannia Stadium
Date: July 28 – Kick-off: 7.45pm


Stoke should be able to name a full-strength side for Thursday's Europa League third qualifying round first leg tie at home to Hajduk Split.

Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington are battling knocks while Jon Walters has a virus but Tony Pulis expects all three to be available for the game at the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters boss is also considering handing a competitive debut to Jonathan Woodgate after he came through a friendly at Aldershot on Saturday with no problems.

The 31-year-old joined the Potters on a pay-as-you-play deal this summer after making only four appearances in the last two seasons for Tottenham because of injury. Ricardo Fuller, Danny Higginbotham and Mamady Sidibe are long-term absentees.


Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic wants to add ‘another feather to his cap’

Asmir Begovic says it will be a dream come true if he is given the nod for Stoke City in tonight's UEFA Europa League third round qualifying encounter with Hajduk Split, revealing it will mark another milestone in his career.

The 24-year-old Bosnian international stopper has yet to taste European club football, and is relishing the prospect of making his debut in the competition with the Potters.



"It would be incredible," he told "Every player dreams of playing at the top level, playing internationally and playing in Europe, so if I do play in this game, then it will be another feather in my cap.

"People talk about the added stresses and strains of these games, but personally for me it's fantastic. All I want to do is play as many games of football as I can.

"It will be something new for me, and something new for a lot of the lads in the squad, so it is a game we are very much looking forward to." 

The draw handed to Stoke, who are making their first appearance in European competition since 1974, has hardly been kind to Tony Pulis' side, but Begovic is confident the players have the ability to overcome their first hurdle of 2011-12.

"It's undoubtedly the toughest game we could have got at this stage of the competition," he continued. "They are a club steeped in history and tradition, and as somebody from that part of the world I know how much football means to them.

"They will be desperate to progress, but so are we. We have confidence - you only have to look back at last season to see who we beat and what we achieved. 

"We are more than capable of winning the game and if we can do that we will give ourselves a fantastic chance of progressing."

Jermaine Pennant
Europa League
Asmir Begovic
Jonathan Woodgate
Mamady Sidibe
Stoke City
Danny Higginbotham
Matthew Etherington
Ricardo Fuller

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