Manchester United v Stoke City: Match Preview

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Manchester United v Stoke City
Barclays Premier League
Old Trafford
Tuesday, January 31st; 20:00

Team News

Rio Ferdinand could make a speedy return to the Manchester United first-team, after missing the FA Cup defeat to Liverpool.

Nani and Wayne Rooney aren't expected to be risk after also missing the trip to Anfield.

Cameron Jerome is set to be rewarded following his FA Cup goal against Derby County, with a first league start of 2012, but Matthew Etherington will miss out.

Ferguson expecting Stoke test

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is expecting a tough test when faced with Stoke City on Tuesday evening.

United are looking to keep pace with leaders Manchester City with a win at Old Trafford, but face the tough proposition of Stoke, who reached last season's FA Cup final.

But Ferguson is under no illusions of what to expect.

"You know what Tony Pulis' teams are like; they're always the same with one hundred per cent commitment.

"They all get stuck in and you have to cope with that. I quite enjoy that. When we used to play Wimbledon, at the beginning when they first came into our division, nobody enjoyed playing against them.”

He added, "But then I started and my team started to enjoy it because it was a challenge, a physical challenge in the way they played and a physical challenge in terms of trying to take control of the possessions and play your football.

"Stoke are a different team altogether from Wimbledon, obviously, but they still have the same quality of never giving in; they keep going, so it's a good challenge for us."

Meanwhile, Stoke, who won their cup tie over Championship side Derby County face United with manager Tony Pulis looking ahead to yet another fixture for the Potters.

With the club still involved in the Europa League, the fixtures are adding up for Stoke, but Pulis is undeterred.

"We have played 14 cup ties so far this season and we are guaranteed now another three - the fifth round and we have got two games against Valencia," said Pulis.

"That will take us to 17 cup ties, for a side that is still learning all about the Premiership. It's a great testament to the players, the amount of games they have had to play in but they keep digging in.

"What we have got to do now is make sure we take things nice and steady. It's an important stage within the season and we have to make sure we stay focused on the Premiership while also, when the cup ties come around, we want to win those games as well.

"That's what we have done today and we have shown the competition and Derby a lot of respect."

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