Stoke City make the long trip to Stevenage as they look to bounce back after a demoralizing 4-1 defeat against Manchester City at the Bet365 Stadium. It was widely expected of Stoke to put up a much better fight, but they folded in front of the quality of Pep Guardiola’s men. While the Boss would be emphasising that the scoreline was flattering for the Etihad outfit, it was evident that Stoke are lacking any sort of cutting edge higher up the pitch. And their frustrating search for a striker is getting rather tense and the Potters would look to wrap up a deal for whoever they are targeting, with odds slashed on Saido Berahino.
Nevertheless, they must shift their focus on the job at hand and Mark Hughes would be reminding his troops to not take their midweek opponents lightly. Stoke had a close shave with defeat at a similar stage in the Cup when they prevailed 8-7 on penalties after a draw in regulation time against Luton Town. And Stevenage would be full of confidence having already dispatched Championship side Ipswich Town in the first round and their fearless attitude will be something the Potters will have to be wary off.
This will be first time the two teams will be meeting and while Stoke have travelled with the same squad involved against Manchester City, there are expected to be wholesale changes to the first team.
HERE IS THE PREDICTED STOKE CITY LINE-UP (4-2-3-1)
Butland is still out, which would mean another start for Given. Bardsley will most likely line-up at right-back due lack of options. Wollscheid might be replaced with Cameron and Shawcross will look to keep a clean sheet with his new partner. Eric Pieters has put in some questionable performances and Muniesa will look to get his chance and impress the manager.
Joe Allen might get another start as he looks to blend in with his teammates after a good starting debut in the weekend. Charlie Adam might get a rare start alongside him in the double-pivot. Bojan might be retained in the No.10 role as he will provide the creative spark in the relatively untested attacking line this season.
Stoke’s go-to man Walters might be selected on the flank, though he can move to the striker’s position as well. Egyptian wonder-kid Ramadan Sobhi is in line for his first start and he will look to prove his worth as a starter for the Premier League club. Diouf might be given the day off after a few unconvincing performances. Conversely, though, he might be given another go to get a few goals under his belt which will boost his confidence.