March 16, 2013
Stoke wait on Etherington
Team Stat Comparison
|Stoke City||West Bromwich Albion|
|Goals for *||1.1||1.1|
|Goals against *||1.2||1.7|
|Last 5 home||L-W-L-L-D||D-L-D-L-W|
|Last 5 away||D-D-W-L-L||L-L-W-L-D|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Stoke City | West Bromwich Albion|
|Stoke City||West Bromwich Albion|
|12/14||A: Hull City||12/14||A: Cardiff City|
|12/21||H: Aston Villa||12/21||H: Hull City|
|12/26||A: Newcastle United||12/26||A: Tottenham Hotspur|
|12/29||A: Tottenham Hotspur||12/28||A: West Ham United|
|1/1||H: Everton||1/1||H: Newcastle United|
Stoke are waiting to see whether Matthew Etherington will be fit enough to return to the side for the Barclays Premier League clash with West Brom at the Britannia Stadium.
The winger has missed the last two games with a back problem and is again touch and go while striker Cameron Jerome is likely to be on the bench after being forced off with a knock to his knee in last weekend's defeat by Newcastle.
Defender Robert Huth serves the final game of a three-match ban so full-back Marc Wilson will again deputise alongside captain Ryan Shawcross in the centre.
Stoke's only away win this season came at The Hawthorns in December but the Potters will be aware of the strengths of on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku.
The 19-year-old has scored 13 goals this season, four in his last three games, and Stoke were one of a number of clubs who contacted Chelsea about him last summer.
It was former Chelsea assistant manager Steve Clarke, now in charge at West Brom, who secured the services of the Belgian, and boss Tony Pulis said: "He's done fantastic.
"He was a good signing and he's certainly got better as the season's gone on. He's taken a bit of time to settle in.
"There were quite a few clubs interested in him. I think Steve's contacts with the people at Chelsea most probably got West Brom the player, which is always nice.
"I spoke to (Chelsea assistant first-team coach) Steve Holland but I think Steve had spoken to the hierarchy and West Brom had got in there nice and early.''
Stoke will again be without defender Huth so the task of coping with Lukaku will fall to captain Ryan Shawcross and stand-in centre-back Marc Wilson.
Pulis said: "We've missed Robert anyway but Marc has done really well. He's shown his quality and he's a versatile player. Him and Ryan have got on well together.
"I thought he was outstanding against Newcastle. He certainly uses the ball well. It slows the game down and we kept possession a lot better because of that.''
Striker Shane Long remains doubtful for West Brom.
The Republic of Ireland international is still struggling with the ankle injury which kept him out of last weekend's win over Swansea.
Right-back Steven Reid is also doubtful due to a groin problem which also sidelined him for Saturday's 2-1 victory at the Hawthorns. Head coach Clarke has no new injuries to deal with.
Clarke has got his best boffins on the case as the inquest continues into the alarming dip in form which scuppered his team's European dreams.
Albion's bright hopes of fighting for European qualification were badly undermined by a terrible run of results over the new year period.
Having taken the Barclays Premier League by storm over the first half of the campaign to put them within touching distance of the top four, Clarke's side failed to win a game in January to leave European football a highly unlikely prospect.
They currently sit in eighth position on 43 points - just four adrift of fifth-placed Arsenal - but need to overhaul not only the Gunners but also Liverpool and Everton if they are to snatch an unlikely Europa League berth.
Managerial rookie Clarke has always played down the Baggies' European ambitions but admits their traditional new year struggles are still causing him a headache.
"Within the team everybody dropped towards the end of December and in January for some reason,'' he said. "It's something we're still looking at and assessing to find out why.
"I'm trying to forget about January for now. I've got the medical staff looking at it now to see if they can dig anything up. I've got the fitness coach seeing if he can pick up anything from the data that month, just to see if there's anything we can tie it down to. We'll try to address it next season.
"We'll find out how good all these university graduates are and see if they can find the pattern for me.''
Clarke added: "I've already got an ambition for next season and that's to win a game in January!
"It's still something we'll look at because if you look at the season as a whole, that one month is an anomaly. It's a big hole in our season and if we hadn't had that hole, maybe it could have been a better season. We have to address that.''