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Boss expects a more expansive Stoke this weekend

“Stoke look a strong outfit and it’s a big test for us, but it’s a test that we’re all looking forward to"

15 January 2021

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Tony Mowbray says the arrivals of two new players this week may be a signal that Stoke City are preparing to play a more attacking-minded game than the one they utilised against Rovers last month at the bet365 Stadium.

Potters chief Michael O'Neill has brought in the highly-rated Jack Clarke and Rhys Norrington-Davies on loan this week, with both arrivals available for Saturday's clash at Ewood Park.

Clarke, a winger, has made the loan move from Tottenham Hotspur, whilst attacking full back Norrington-Davies, who featured against Rovers for Luton Town earlier in the season, has secured a temporary switch from Sheffield United.

The last meeting was a frustrating one for Rovers, with Stoke earning a narrow 1-0 win on home turf thanks to Nick Powell's early header in Staffordshire just before Christmas.

It was a game Rovers dominated in tough conditions, with Mowbray's men having 70% possession in that game.

“There’s a lot of teams in this league showing us a lot of respect and putting everyone behind the ball," Mowbray began when looking ahead to this weekend's game with iFollow Rovers.

“We went to Stoke three or four weeks ago and they were a bit like that.

“It was like trying to break down a defensive block and we couldn’t quite do that.

“At the other end, we let them score after three or four minutes and that allowed them to sit in and make life difficult for us.

“Stoke have got some very talented footballers and they’re having a decent season.

“Michael O’Neill is a very experienced coach who knows how to set his side up out of possession.

“They have enough talent in the final third of the pitch to ask questions of us. They’re a powerful team with an ex-international manager in charge.

“Having signed two wingers this week, this suggests to me that Michael will be more expansive with that speed and directness added to the side," the Rovers boss predicted.

“Stoke look a strong outfit and it’s a big test for us, but it’s a test that we’re all looking forward to."

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