Stoke City boss Mark Hughes returns to another one of his former clubs as Championship play-off chasers Blackburn Rovers provide the opposition in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The six-time winners overcame Premier League opponents in the last stage, seeing off the nine men of Swansea City with a nevertheless impressive attacking display. Their prolific front two of Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes will undoubtedly cause problems here.
Despite their goals, however, Rovers have been inconsistent in the Championship of late, falling nine points off the play-off places and needing a strong end to the season in order to be in with a chance. They were fortunate to win last time out against Rotherham United, where they were second best for long spells.
It has been relatively straightforward progress for Stoke, who can maybe focus a significant amount of attention on the FA Cup as they lie in a comfortable position in the Premier League. They played some neat football in defeating League One Rochdale in round four, and will be hoping for a similar performance here.
But a depleted defence will improve the host’s chances, as the absence of Ryan Shawcross and Marc Wilson certainly played a part in the 4-1 loss to Manchester City in midweek. The margin of defeat was harsh, as they gave the Premier League champions problems early on.
The hosts have few injury problems to contend with, but Simon Eastwood is likely to take the place of Jason Steele in goal. Bojan Krkic is still out for a Stoke side for whom Marc Muniesa is expected to continue alongside Philipp Wollscheid in central defence.
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