February 9, 2013
Ready Brek for Stoke
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.1||1.1|
|Goals against *||1.2||2.1|
|Last 5 home||L-W-L-L-D||L-D-D-L-L|
|Last 5 away||D-D-W-L-L||L-W-L-L-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Stoke City | Reading|
New signing Brek Shea could be in line to make his Stoke debut in the Barclays Premier League clash with Reading at the Britannia Stadium.
Shea is eligible to play in the game after the formalities of his move from FC Dallas were completed this week and Potters boss Tony Pulis will now assess the fitness of the 22-year-old United States winger, who has been recovering from a foot operation.
It remains to be seen whether or not full-back Marc Wilson will be involved after he made his playing comeback from a broken leg in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday.
Potters boss Tony Pulis sees Reading's recent habit of scoring important late goals as testament to the spirit and belief Brian McDermott has fostered within his squad.
The Royals have hauled themselves out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone by registering three wins and a draw in their last four top-flight fixtures, a sequence in which they have netted nearly all their goals towards the end of the games.
Their efforts have been recognised with McDermott and striker Adam Le Fondre - who has scored five times during the run - being named the division's manager and player of the month for January respectively.
And ahead of the clash, Pulis has also saluted the Berkshire club.
"They have had a great run of results,'' Pulis said.
"What they have shown by scoring so many goals late on is that they have real spirit in the team. It has been remarkable really.
"Brian will be really pleased with the belief the team has shown - it has given them great heart, I'm sure.''
Reading are currently 17th, two points clear of the drop zone, while Stoke are 10th.
The Potters have managed to retain a top-half position despite not winning a league match since Boxing Day.
In among their fixtures during that time they have come up against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal - losing all three contests - and they now have a series of more winnable-looking games ahead of them.
Certainly Pulis is eager to get a victory on the board, although he is anticipating Reading will pose his side a testing assignment tomorrow.
"We have to get some points and we are keen to get back to winning ways,'' Pulis said.
"We have had a very, very tough run again like at the start of the season, we have got through that period and we are still 10th in the league so we are pleased with that.
"What we have to do now is win a few games, although we know it will be tough (on Saturday) - they are on a great run at the moment.''
Reading forward Noel Hunt is back in contention.
Hunt has missed the last two Barclays Premier League games with an unspecified injury but is in the squad that will travel to the Britannia Stadium.
ManagerMcDermott will be hoping Jamaica international trio Adrian Mariappa, Jobi McAnuff and Garath McCleary will have returned unscathed following a midweek draw in Mexico.
Reading striker Le Fondre is keen to shake off the `super-sub' label he has earned for his goalscoring exploits in January.
Le Fondre picked up the Barclays Player of the Month award for scoring five times in the league last month, with all of his efforts coming as a substitute.
Two goals in the win at Newcastle and draw at home to Chelsea, plus an equaliser in the 3-2 victory over West Brom, mean the 26-year-old is now seen as the Royals' go-to man if the starting line-up fail to provide the goals.
But although the former Rotherham forward is happy to see Reading sitting outside the bottom three thanks to a good run of form, he is itching to be back in manager Brian McDermott's first XI.
"I'm as happy as I can be coming off the bench,'' he said.
"Obviously I want to start and the gaffer knows that. I've spoken to him numerous times after I've scored goals that I want to start games, but those five goals from the bench have catapulted me into the `super sub' tag.
"I don't want to be stuck with that for the rest of my career. I don't want to play 20 minutes in games, I want to play for 90 minutes.
"It is the exact opposite of what I want to be known as. I'm not an impact player and just do the best I can every time I'm on the pitch.
"I just want to start games - for the time being it is as you are because we are winning games and have got to stick with it.''