Preview: Stoke City v Blues

They have an experienced manager, a good manager, very good players... But again, I don’t like to waste time speaking about the opponents.

Aitor Karanka

Our full match preview ahead of Blues' Sky Bet Championship fixture against The Potters on Sunday at the Britannia Stadium (3pm kick-off).

Aitor Karanka on how training has been this week...
"Training has been very good and since we arrived here every single session is really good. The atmosphere, the improvement every single training session, the attitude of everybody is amazing and it’s been a really nice week."

Aitor Karanka asked if there were any specific areas that his side needed to improve on...
"Every single area, I think if you want to improve as a team you need to improve every single day. Now we are improving especially in our commitment and consistency but now it is true we have to win games and last Saturday we had a lot of chances to score two or three goals. Now I think that is the way we have to improve, try to score those goals."

Aitor Karanka on the strike partnership between Lukas Jutkiewicz and Scott Hogan...
"I think it is going to take a little bit of time especially because Scott is not as fit as he was last year. It is true that now I think our style is different and it is going to take a little bit of time but I don’t care about that time because the problem is when you don’t have those players. When you have those players, it is easier to progress."

Aitor Karanka on Mikel San Jose's fitness...
"He’s improving and he was doing something before he came here because he is a really good professional. But it is true that when the ball is in the middle it is different. He’s working really well, so let’s hope he can be as fit as possible as soon as possible. He’s a quality player and with all his experience he’s ready to be in the squad."

Aitor Karanka on what sort of test he expects from Stoke...
"A tough game, completely different to last Saturday’s game but Stoke were, in the Premier League two or three years ago. They have an experienced manager, a good manager, very good players.. But again, I don’t like to waste time speaking about the opponents, I think it is about ourselves. If I think of an example, the Cambridge game, the Brentford game was a completely different game. Their players lost a final two months – then since we played them, they have not lost another game. In one week, we had the best examples."

Blues team news...
Recent Spanish signing Mikel San Jose could join the matchday squad for the first time. Jonathan Leko (ACL) is back in training but is still several weeks away from a return to match fitness. Josh McEachran (ACL) is at least two months behind Leko in the recovery process.

Stoke team news...
Wales international midfielder Joe Allen has been out since March after rupturing his Achilles tendon. Winger Thibaud Verlinden (knee) is not yet match fit as he recovers from his injury. Former Blues goalkeeper Jack Butland plays for The Potters, but is likely to be on the subs' bench.

Head to head...
Stoke wins: 41
Draws: 23
Blues wins: 35

Last five meetings between Stoke and Blues...
Championship 12 Jul 2020 Stoke 2 Blues 0
Championship 31 Aug 2019 Blues 2 Stoke 1
Championship 26 Dec 2018 Blues 2 Stoke 0
Championship 20 Oct 2018 Stoke 0 Blues 1
Capital One Cup 29 Oct 2013 Blues 4 Stoke 4

This match will be available to watch on BluesTV for just £10. Click here for further details. If you’re an existing international package subscriber you will not need to purchase a pay-per-view package, as it is included within your current subscription.

Match officials...
Referee: John Brooks
Assistant Referee 1 - Akil Howson
Assistant Referee 2 - Nick Greenhalgh
Fourth Official - Wade Smith