Preview | Stoke City v Swansea City
Swansea City look to overcome their weekend setback when they travel to the Potteries to take on Stoke City tonight (8.15pm).
Having enjoyed an excellent run of form from the tail-end of 2020 into the opening of 2021, the Swans have lost two of their last three after defeat against Bristol City on Saturday.
However, Steve Cooper’s side still have their destiny very much in their own hands as they are four points off the top two spots with two games in hand on the teams above them.
But they will be keen to bounce back with a victory at a ground that historically has not proved to be a happy hunting ground.
The Swans have just one victory to their name at the bet365 Stadium, with that coming back in 2001 when the two clubs were in the Second Division.
The Potters have been going through a difficult run of late, winning two of their last 13 games and taking 10 points from a possible 33.
And the visitors will hope they can extend that sequence by claiming a valuable result on their travels.
Head coach Steve Cooper reported no new concerns in the wake of the weekend loss to Bristol City, but he knows he will again be without Ryan Bennett due to the defender’s calf injury.
Brandon Cooper was on the bench at the weekend after his ankle injury, while Wayne Routledge is progressing well in his recovery.
But Jordan Morris, Liam Cullen, Steven Benda and Tivonge Rushesha are out for the long term.
Steve Cooper: “They have players who have cost a lot of money - that’s for a reason – and you know that playing Stoke will be a strong test, regardless of what form they are in.
“We are treating it that way, but we really want to go there in the right frame of mind; confident and committed in how we play and what we can do on the night.
“There is so much that can still happen, as we know from last season, so topics about whether we have had a good season or not are for the end of the season really.
“Now it’s about delivering when it counts, which is on game days, and we have to make sure we are ready to go, because those are the things we are in control of.”
Michael O’Neill: “We started with two wins, now we’ve had two defeats, we take a couple of steps forward and we take a couple of steps back.
“That’s probably where we are at this minute in time but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a lot to play for this season.”
Remember the last time?
Swansea City fell to defeat at Stoke after second-half goals from Sam Clucas and James McClean gave the hosts the three points at the bet365 Stadium last season.
Steve Cooper’s side started far the brighter in the Potteries, and were later denied by the woodwork as Matt Grimes hit the bar with a free-kick.
But Clucas hit a low strike into the bottom corner nine minutes into the second half, before McClean wrapped things up in stoppage time.
The result saw the Swans miss the chance to climb back into the play-off places, as their run without a win at the home of the Potters extended to 19 years.
4 – Swansea have lost just four games on their travels this season, a tally not bettered by any other side in the Championship.
9 – The Swans are winless in their last nine trips to the bet365 Stadium, last winning in 2001 with Jason Price and Kris O’Leary on the scoresheet.
Tonight we welcome our virtual mascots, Russell Phillips, and Piper and Paisley Fulford-Astley.
Russell is from Monmouthshire and has been celebrating his fourth birthday. Russell plays football for Sudbrook Cricket Club FC, and has a sister named Harriett. His favourite players are Andre Ayew and Connor Roberts.
Piper and Paisley Fulford-Astley are sisters from Swansea, and are aged two and four. They won the club's Junior Jacks St David's Day competition, for a photo of them in their traditional Welsh dresses. Their favourite player is Freddie Woodman.