“I reckon we should pretty much know which way this season is going to go for Stoke City by the end of those three games.
Take a sizeable chunk of those nine points off fellow strugglers, and with only five games to come afterwards, and they could be all but mathematically safe.
The other side of the coin obviously doesn’t bear thinking about.
One huge advantage for Stoke is the competition for places they’ve got in a squad that’s bigger than most clubs down there around them.
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Seeing the young lad Lasse Sorensen come in and do well at Reading only increases that competition, certainly in midfield, and should raise performances around him.
Sadly, it doesn’t look like we are going to see Ryan Shawcross for a little while and losing him alongside Joe Allen, two players to emerge with better reputations than most after relegation, is a blow, there’s no denying it.
It must be in everybody’s mind at the club, and Ryan’s too, that there is a danger of him not completing the full 90 minutes when he plays and that’s an uncomfortable feeling.
Let’s hope this next mini break works for him and his next comeback is far more permanent.”