Michael O’Neill has made three big changes to his starting 11 here at Luton this afternoon.
As suggested yesterday, there were three places up for grabs at the end of a three-game week and O’Neill has decided to make all three changes.
So James Chester, rested from the Stoke starting 11 at Blackburn on Wednesday, returns for teenager Nathan Collins at the heart of his defence.
In midfield, meanwhile, Jordan Thompson is rested to the bench this afternoon after two decent appearances in the past week and his place as the defensive midfielder goes to Jordan Cousins.
And up front, Tyrese Campbell is replaced by Sam Vokes.
Collins will feel hard done by, but Chester’s experience was always likely for such a big clash today.
And O’Neill has been generally impressed with Chester, but felt he needed a break in the week after so little game time at Aston Villa this season.
As for Thompson, O’Neill clearly feels a third game in a week might be one game too far – and he may prefer the greater physicality of Cousins too.
Campbell can have few complaints at being left on the bench today after a pretty grey showing at Blackburn.
O’Neill had the option of Lee Gregory’s greater mobility instead, but has gone for the greater physical presence of Vokes.
Stoke: Butland, Smith, Martins Indi, Batth, Chester, Cousins, Allen, Clucas, Ince, Vokes, Powell.
Subs: Davies, Lindsay, Gregory, Oakley-Boothe, Campbell, Thompson, Collins.