Stoke could drop more points at reliable Rotherham
Physical contest may frustrate underachieving Potters
Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 5.30pm Saturday
Rotherham and Stoke were 24th and first in the pre-season Sky Bet Championship betting but they are locked together on nine points after nine games and may not be separated by their clash at the New York Stadium where a draw looks a strong possibility.
An average return of one point per game is reasonable for the Millers but it looks dismal for Stoke, who had high hopes of regaining top-flight status.
There is still a long way to go but Stoke are not playing well enough to suggest that a sudden improvement is just around the corner.
They have lost the shot count in five of nine league matches and have conceded 16 goals, only two fewer than basement boys Preston.
Keeping the same defenders who failed them in the Premier League is looking like a mistake and the Potters are unhealthily reliant on five-goal top-scorer Benik Afobe to make the difference in attack.
Afobe has scored four times in three appearances against the Millers and is the 5-1 favourite to notch first.
Rotherham's defence, weakened by the ongoing absences of centre-backs Clark Robertson and Sean Raggett, is going to be tested but manager Paul Warne will urge his side to get on the front foot to try to add to their three home wins this season.
Warne's men are looking much more competitive than their 2016-17 Championship campaign when they finished tailed off on just 23 points and they gave a good account of themselves in a 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest last Saturday.
They will try to make it an ugly, physical contest and that might be enough to frustrate Stoke, who are failing miserably to live up to their pre-season billing.
1pt 13-5 Betway
Clark Robertson (groin) and Sean Raggett (ankle) are out. Two more unidentified players have picked up injuries but Joe Newell (hip) is available.
James McClean (broken arm) is back in training but Sam Clucas (knee) is sidelined.
Stoke have won only one of their last 20 away fixtures.
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