Stoke fancy inflicting Town home defeat

STOKE City will give Ipswich Town a stiff examination of their unbeaten home league record when they visit Portman Road in the Coca-Cola Championship tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

Elvin King

STOKE City will give Ipswich Town a stiff examination of their unbeaten home league record when they visit Portman Road in the Coca-Cola Championship tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

The Potters have only lost five league games all season - two away from home - and are fourth in the table.

And David Kemp, assistant manager to Tony Pulis, said today: “I'd like to think Ipswich are due a home defeat, and that we are the team to inflict it.

“But we know we'll have our hands full.”

Stoke are without striker Mamady Sidibe, who has left to play for Mali in the African Cup of Nations, and they have an injury doubt over midfielder Rory Delap.

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But Kemp can see his team doing well despite Town's impressive home form.

“We won at Portman Road last season and hopefully we can repeat that this time,” said Kemp. “Ipswich are impressive at home and playing their best football there.

“They've always been a difficult team to play on their own ground and always been a good footballing team.

“When playing away something clearly doesn't suit them, but I'm sure they will get that sorted before the end of the season.

“They've got a lot of home grown players. They know the Ipswich way and obviously feel comfortable playing at Portman Road.

“We've coped before without Mamady Sidibe, and I'm sure we can cope again.”

Richard Cresswell and Jon Parkin are competing with each other to replace Sidibe as former Town loanee Ricardo Fuller's strike partner.

Cresswell fancies a crack at playing in his strongest position after spending most of the season on the left flank. But Parkin is hoping to win a rare place in the starting line-up after replacing Cresswell in Sunday's FA Cup draw against Newcastle.

“The only game I've played up front with Ricardo Fuller was at Crystal Palace,” said Cresswell. “And I enjoyed it that night.

“You don't get as many chances out wide, but I've still got a few goals and I'm happy with that.”

Delap has a thigh injury with Pulis saying: “At this stage he's very much touch and go.”

The Stoke boss has his sights set on completing permanent deals to sign Ryan Shawcross and Andy Griffin from Manchester United and Derby respectively.

Tomorrow's squads

Ipswich Town: Alexander, Supple, Sito, Bruce, De Vos, Wright, Wilnis, Harding, Casement, Haynes, Garvan, Miller, Williams, Legwinski, Clarke, Walters, Counago, Lee, Peters, Naylor

Stoke City: Simonsen, Wilkinson, Dickinson, Cort, Shawcross, Lawrence, Eustace, Delap, Pugh, Cresswell, Fuller, Pulis, Parkin, Pericard, Zakuani, Hoult.

Referee: Mr K Stroud (Hampshire).

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