Stoke v Middlesbrough preview
Six-pointer at The Britannia
Last Updated: March 20, 2009 12:32pm
Pulis: Looking for win
Stoke host Middlesbrough in another Premier League relegation six-pointer.
For the second week running Boro are again lining up against another side in the bottom-three.
Stoke are only in the drop-zone on goal-difference, whilst Boro remain two points adrift and know only a win at the Britannia Stadium would lift them out of the relegation spots.
Both sides have very poor records against rival clubs at the bottom end. Stoke have won just one of the six games they have had against the bottom-six and Boro's record is even worse, with just one victory in eight games against the bottom-six.
Indeed, Boro look to have a massive task in front of them; just one win in 17 league games, no goals in nearly 12 hours of playing away from the Riverside in the league while Stoke have lost just once in 11 games at home - and that was against Manchester United.
Boro will also not be looking forward to facing James Beattie, as the in-form striker does not enjoy playing against anyone more than the Teessiders having scored seven times against them in his career.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis is considering whether to bring Ricardo Fuller back into his starting line-up.
He is recovering from a shoulder problem and will likely replace Mamady Sidibe, providing he can prove his fitness.
Matthew Etherington is also nursing an ankle injury and may have to make do with a place on the bench again.
Middlesbrough will be forced into at least one change for the trip to the Potteries with Matthew Bates suspended.
His absence will likely mean Josh Walker coming into the side, although if Gary O'Neil is declared fit then he could also line up alongside Julio Arca in central midfield.
Jeremie Aladiere is also a doubt, but he should start on the right-side of midfield, while Justin Hoyte looks set to miss out again.
Yet another concern is captain Emanuel Pogatetz - who was forced off against Portsmouth last weekend. Andrew Taylor is on stand-by to come in for the Austrian.
Possible starting XIs
Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham , Lawrence, Whelan, Diao, Delap, Beattie, Fuller
Middlesbrough: Jones, McMahon, Pogatetz, Wheater, Huth, Aliadiere, O'Neil, Arca, Downing, Tuncay, King
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