After taking just eight points from their opening 15 games, which included a 0-0 draw at Griffin Park, Stoke City fans would have bitten your hand off to head into the penultimate round of fixures with a five point cushion between them and the relegation places.

However, that is exactly what they have as Michael O'Neill continues to win admirers for the job he is doing in The Potteries. The former Northern Ireland boss was appointed in early November, becoming Stoke's fourth permanent manager in 18 months.

After wining his first two in charge, Stoke began to really climb the table at the turn of the year. Starting with a 5-2 win over Huddersfield Town, City took 21 points from their 12 games in 2020 pre-lockdown to pull clear of the bottom three. Since the return, they have done enough to keep their heads above water thanks to wins over Barnsley and Birmingham.

O'Neill's side have won six of their last eight at the Bet365 Stadium with only The Bees and Leeds United boasting better home records during this period.

Sam Clucas (pictured above) leads The Potters' scoring charts from midfield with 11 while youngster Tyrese Campbell has nine goals from 18 starts.


Michael O’Neill had an impressive playing career which saw him begin with Coleraine before moving on to Newcastle United. A couple of years there would then see him go on to turn out for the likes of Dundee United and Hibernian before returning to England to link up with Coventry City and Wigan Athletic. Spells with St Johnstone and Portland Timbers would follow before he rounded off his playing days with well over 400 appearances to his name.

He then moved into management with Brechin City before a hugely successful spell at Shamrock Rovers. He made history by being the first manager of a League of Ireland team to guide his side to European competition. His impressive record caught the eye of the Northern Ireland national team and he took charge in 2011. Success followed as he guided the nation to its first ever European Championship in 2016, qualifying from the group phase before bowing out against Wales. Following his appointment at Stoke, O’Neill intending to continue with Northern Ireland for the remainder of their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. However, the postponement of Euro 2020 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic led to his resignation as Northern Ireland boss in April.


With everyone coming through Wednesday's win over Preston North End, Thomas again has all his options available to him tomorrow.

O’Neill confirmed Nick Powell (calf) and Sam Clucas (knock) both came off injured in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Bristol City but hasn't ruled either out of tomorrow's game. Thibaut Verlinden (Knee) and Joe Allen (Achilles) are long-term absentees.


🆚 Stoke-On Trent Live's Pete Smith gives us the lowdown on The Potters

⚖ Geoff Eltringham will be the man in charge tomorrow afternoon



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