If all the games in the Championship so far this season had ended at half-time, Stoke City would be top.
Unfortunately for Michael O’Neill, as he pointed out yesterday, if they started at half-time, Stoke would be 16th – and that’s a discrepancy he wants to correct in, yes, second half of the campaign.
“We’ve looked at all those situations with the team prior to the Blackburn game. If you look at the Championship table as it would stand at half-times I think we would be top,” he said.
“We’ve been in a situation when our second half performances haven’t maybe matched what we’ve seen in the first half and we’ve lost points. That’s disappointing. We have to look to address that, the players have to look to address that.
“It’s difficult to try to pinpoint why that is, to be honest, in the same way that it is difficult to try to pinpoint why there’s a discrepancy between home and away form for all clubs.
“It’s important we don’t let situations like that slip as often as we have done. We obviously did that on Saturday but the important thing was we showed character to get something from the game, having gone down to 10 men.
“That was a big positive from that situation given that it was also a very young team that started the game.”
Steven Fletcher ‘lucky to avoid significant injury’ as Stoke hope he’s fit for good
Stoke City hope to keep Steven Fletcher fit as he provides a major boost to the attacking department by returning today.
Fletcher has been nursing a knee injury since November and damaged his groin when he landed awkwardly against Bournemouth in the first game of the New Year.
But the 33-year-old striker who has been so influential since his summer move from Sheffield Wednesday is back in the squad for tomorrow’s trip to Rotherham United.
It’s a double boost because Nick Powell, who was forced off with a jarred ankle against Blackburn at the weekend, has also been passed fit to travel.
Ryan Shawcross Covid blow for Stoke City as James Chester sits out
Ryan Shawcross is in self-isolation after a positive Covid-19 test at Stoke City.
The club captain would have been expected to challenge with Danny Batth to fill a hole left by James Chester (suspension) for tomorrow’s trip to Rotherham United.
But a positive result at the end of last week ruled him out of a place in the squad for Saturday’s draw at Blackburn and he remains at home.
Clubs are now carrying out twice-weekly tests, funded by the PFA, to try to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Stoke boss makes transfer admission in final fortnight of January window
Michael O’Neill admits that any further incoming transfer business at Stoke City this month will probably depend on if they can seal outgoings.
Stoke have moved quickly to bring in left-back Rhys Norrington-Davies and wingers Rabbi Matondo and Jack Clarke.
The hunt for a striker is slightly less urgent after Steven Fletcher returned from injury while Lee Gregory is hoping to be back next week too, even if Tyrese Campbell is ruled out for the season.
On the other hand, the squad is bloated as the treatment room empties.