Pre-season Double header preview
By Dan Buxton
Updated Sunday, 12th July 2009
A look at the opening friendlies against Newcastle Town and Nantwich Town, both kicking off at 2.30pm today
Have a long history of playing Stoke in the opening pre-season friendly, going back many years, but this year must share the honour with Nantwich. That, coupled with the predicted bad weather and lack of signings, may mean a smaller than usual crowd.
Usually a game the Potters run out easy winners in, yet get a good tough work out from a side not wanting to budge on anything, and manager Tony Pulis will be at the Lyme Valley Stadium for the first half of this encounter.
Player to watch for the home side is winger Jordan Johnson, scorer of 20 goals last season and a player tipped, and linked, with clubs at a much higher level than the Vodkat Premier League.
Town had a good season last time round, narrowly missing out on promotion, but got hammered 7-0 by League Two side Crewe Alex last week in their opening friendly. That game may leave them better physically prepared for the Potters than they were 7 days ago.
Unconfirmed reports state that the squad at this game will be Danzelle St. Louis-Hamilton, Andy Wilkinson, Abdoulaye Faye, Andrew Davies, Carl Dickinson, Glenn Whelan, Rory Delap, Ben Marshall, Matthew Etherington, James Beattie, Dave Kitson plus either Tom Soares or Ibrahima Sonko.
Potters academy stars Louis Moult, Dan Stockhall and Ryan Connor will be on the bench for this game, hoping to get their first taste of football with the Potters first team.
A game organised on the back of the Potters using the Weaver Stadium for their reserves fixtures last season, the Unibond Premier side narrowly missed out on a third successive promotion last season, losing 2-1 to Ilkeston after extra time in the play off final, before head coach Steve Davis left to become ex-Potters manager Gudjon Thordarson's assistant at Crewe Alex.
Rebuilding is ongoing, they are still managerless, and the visit of the Potters is their first pre-season friendly.
Last season's top scorer of 34 goals Michael Lennon, who has turned down deals at Blue Square Premier sides to remain in his job as a teacher at Edensor High School in Longton, contracted swine flu on a stag do too Mexico this summer but after a fortnight in isolation was given the all clear and should be available to play this afternoon.
Unconfirmed reports state that the squad at this game will be Steve Simonsen, Andy Griffin, Danny Higginbotham, Ryan Shawcross, Leon Cort, Danny Pugh, Matthew Lund, Ryan Shotton, Salif Diao, Michael Tonge, Liam Lawrence, Richard Cresswell plus either Tom Soares or Ibrahima Sonko.
Potters academy stars Rodney McDonald, Dave Parton, Tom Urwin and Alex Hedley will all be on the bench at Nantwich and, like there fellow U18 teammates at Newcastle, hoping to get on the pitch with the City first team for the first time.
Thomas Sorenson, Ricardo Fuller and Seyi Olofinjana have been given extra leave due to internationals played over the summer.