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"Michael is stamping his mark on their team now"

After a tricky last couple of seasons, Michael O'Neill has Stoke on the rise again

18 December 2020

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Rovers have a good recent record away at Stoke City, but Tony Mowbray believes this weekend's encounter will be the toughest contest yet.

Rovers have won on their last two trips to the bet365 Stadium, with Sam Gallagher bagging a late winner in the Potteries last season.

This term is Michael O'Neill's first full season in charge of the club, and Mowbray feels Stoke are now looking upwards under the Northern Irishman.

“Stoke away is never easy, it’s a tough game," the boss said to iFollow Rovers ahead of the game.

“I think Michael is stamping his mark on their team now and they’re hard to play against, hard to score against.

“But they have some threats at the other end as well, the likes of Ince, McClean and Vokes have all played in the Premier League

“It’s a tough game because they don’t give many goals away and have had lots of clean sheets.

“We’ll go there, hopefully give them some problems and look to get the three points.

“They’ve been struggling towards the bottom in the last few years, but this season sees them right up towards the top six.

“They’re having a decent season and Stoke is still a big club with Premier League history."

Prior to winning 2-1 in the Potteries last term, Rovers were also involved in a barnstorming 3-2 victory at the same venue back in 2018-19.

But Mowbray says that all goes out of the window ahead of this weekend's clash.

“In my brain, I normally put games in the bin when they’ve finished, but I remember Gallagher scoring the winner there last season," he recollected.

“We’ve had some decent days at Stoke, but it means nothing in the context of this weekend’s game.

“Michael built a team with Northern Ireland that was very organised and very tough to beat.

“Yet they were always a threat on the transition, and it’s something he’s taken to Stoke as well now."

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