2 October 2014 17:47
Mark Hughes is confident his Stoke City side have a psychological edge ahead of Saturday’s Premier League visit to Sunderland.
Stoke travel to Wearside for the second time in less than a fortnight having beaten Gus Poyet’s men 2-1 in the League Cup on September 23, thanks to an unlikely double from left-back Marc Muniesa.
Although both sides made several changes for that fixture, Stoke manager Hughes is hopeful his team will have the mental advantage at the Stadium of Light this weekend.
“We are looking forward to the game on Saturday,” Hughes said at his pre-match news conference.
“A number of players who were involved that night may well feature again, so psychologically that could give us the edge. We will try to use that to our benefit.”
Somewhat surprisingly, both of Stoke’s defeats in the Premier League this season have come at home.
However, they visit Sunderland in high spirits having broken their Britannia Stadium duck with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United on Monday.
Hughes has been impressed with his team in the early stages of the campaign and feels that Stoke’s return of eight points from six matches does not fully reflect the standard of their performances.
“We are playing well at the moment and we are in a good place,” he added. “I think we have performed well and maybe haven’t been rewarded with the amount of points we would have liked.”
Stoke striker Mame Biram Diouf has been ruled out with a hamstring injury sustained against Newcastle, while in-form winger Victor Moses (thigh) is being monitored.
Peter Odemwingie remains a long-term absentee after undergoing knee surgery last month and Geoff Cameron (hernia) is still unavailable despite returning to training.
Sunderland head into the clash still searching for a first Premier League win of the season having drawn five out of their six matches, including back-to-back stalemates with Burnley and Swansea City either side of their cup defeat to Stoke.
While the Stadium of Light faithful may be concerned about Sunderland’s failure to claim a victory, midfielder Jack Rodwell is confident the club can kick-start their season on Saturday.
“It would be the ideal time to get that first win,” he told the Sunderland Echo.
“We have only lost one, we will have eight points on the board [if Stoke are beaten] and we should be in a decent position in the table. So one win is all we need at the moment.”
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet welcomes central defender Wes Brown back into his squad following a calf injury, but Sebastian Coates (thigh) remains unavailable and forward Emanuele Giaccherini is doubtful with an ankle complaint.