Paul Lambert hopes Aston Villa will have enough muscle to cope with Stoke's physical threat on Saturday.
Villa's squad will look small in comparison to their counterparts, with the exception of striker Christian Benteke, but with their form improving in recent weeks Lambert says there is no reason they cannot play to their own strengths and extend their unbeaten run to four games.
"Christian will cause problems although we are not big enough for the size of Stoke. I don't think you have to make an apology for being physical," Lambert said.
"But Stoke are not just a physical side. We have to use our strengths to play football and play the way we can. There's not a right or wrong way to play football and Tony Pulis has done a fantastic job at Stoke.
"They are in a rich vein of form but that is what a couple of wins can do, can catapult you up the league. This is a really tough game, different, but we are playing well enough to win.
"There are signs of progression. In the last seven games, only the two Manchester clubs have beaten us. I think people tend to overlook that.
"We've been unfairly criticised at times because we are young. People just think 'young team' but we look at the way things are going at the minute and we are doing really fine.
"You try and give them belief that they can compete and they are more than holding their own and, if you are young enough, you are good enough to get thrown in.
"They have to get thrown in at some stage of their career but I have every faith in those lads to do everything they can for the football club. They have earned the right to play. It is not as if they are there by default."
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