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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Stoke can kick-start their season by beating Swansea

Swans missing key players

Stoke keeper Jack Butland reacts to a goal
1 of 1

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 8pm Tuesday

Anyone who backed Stoke to be promoted from the Sky Bet Championship this season may be close to tearing up their ticket but hope could be rekindled by a home victory over Swansea at the bet365 Stadium.

Stoke were 11-2 title favourites before the start of the campaign but market confidence has evaporated after just one win in their opening seven games.

Gary Rowett's side have been shunted out to 28-1 to win the division and from 7-4 to 7-1 to regain the top-flight status they lost earlier this year.

Pressure has been mounting on Rowett but he was genuinely encouraged by his team's display following a 2-2 draw at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

Stoke bossed the contest for long periods and it took a glorious Barry Bannan free kick to rescue a point for Wednesday, who had gone into the match buoyed by three successive league wins.

Performance-wise, there were lots of positives for Stoke to take from the game.

Midfielder Ryan Woods excelled on his first start for the club, providing a calmness in possession which Stoke have been lacking.

And there was a cutting edge to Stoke's play with Benik Afobe notching his third and fourth goals of the campaign.

Stoke looked as assured and confident as they have all season and playing in such a manner it should not be long before they climb the table.

The fifth-bottom Potters trail Swansea by six points but they are taking on the Welsh side at just the right time.

It has been a decent start to the season for the Swans, who edged up to sixth with a 0-0 draw at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

But summer cost-cutting measures have had an impact on the Welsh side's squad strength and the lack of quality back-up players could be a major problem for them in the Potteries because injuries are starting to mount up.

Winger Bersant Celina and midfielder Jay Fulton sustained injuries in the first half against Forest and failed to reappear after the break.

It forced Graham Potter into a hasty half-time reshuffle and Swansea were on the back foot for most of the second half.

Neither Celina nor Fulton are available to face Stoke and the lack of midfield options is exacerbated by the ongoing absences of Tom Carroll and Leroy Fer.

Potter must come up with a plan and it could include moving right-back Kyle Naughton into the centre of the park.

Swansea responded well to adversity in their last away match, winning 2-1 at Millwall despite losing Courtney Baker-Richardson to a fifth-minute red card.

But it looks like a tough task for them to take on improving Stoke with so many key players missing and there are strong grounds for siding with the home side.

4pts 10-11 general

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Team news
James McClean (wrist) and Sam Clucas (knee) are unavailable.

Bersant Celina (ankle) and Jay Fulton (head) have joined Leroy Fer (groin) and Tom Carroll (hip) on the injured list.

Key stat
Stoke have not lost any of their last seven home games against Swansea.

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Stoke have not lost any of their seven home games against Swansea
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