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Opposition Lowdown: Strugglers Stoke City In Need Of A Win

This weekend sees Reading taking a trip up to the Potteries to face Stoke City. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

Stoke City v Burnley - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mick Walker - CameraSport via Getty Images


Stoke finished in 14th position in the Championship last season, the exact same position they finished in 2020/21. This is their fifth consecutive campaign in the Championship after they were relegated from the Premier League in 2018, following 10 seasons in the top flight.

The Potters currently sit in 20th position in the table, having seen eight wins, six draws and 13 losses so far this season. The Potters have the second worst home record in the Championship, having only picked up three wins, three draws and seven losses.

They are winless in their last five games and come into this weekend’s fixture off the back of three straight losses in the league. The two sides faced each other back in September, with the Royals claiming the three points after a 2-1 win at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, thanks to two goals from Lucas Joao.

The boss

Alex Neil: Stoke sacked former Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill four weeks into the season following a poor start, where they lost three out of their five opening games. O’Neill was replaced by Alex Neil, who left his post at Sunderland after only six months in the North East.

Neil started his managerial career at Scottish side Hamilton in 2013 and led the side to promotion in his first full season. He then joined Championship side Norwich City in 2015 and led them back to the Premier League via the play-offs in his first season at the club.

Neil was sacked by Norwich in 2017 and then went on to manage Preston North End, where he spent four seasons, before joining Sunderland last February. He led the Black Cats back to the Championship, ending their four-year spell in League One, beating Wycombe Wanderers in the playoff final in May.

Neil usually favours a 4-2-3-1 formation, and encourages his team to put the opposition under constant pressure.

Reading v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images


Midfielder Nick Powell will miss this weekend’s game after sustaining an injury in Stoke’s last game against Sheffield United. Defender Dujon Sterling is expected to be back in the squad following a return to full fitness. Loanees Harry Clarke and Tariq Fosu have both been recalled from their loan spells from Arsenal and Brentford.

Expected line-up

Bonham, Souttar, Jagielka, Fox, Wilmot, Tymon, Baker, Thompson, Laurent, Campbell, Brown

Key player

Harry Souttar: Centre back Souttar moved to Stoke in 2016, signing from Dundee United for an undisclosed fee. He joined Dundee United’s academy in 2013 and made his debut for the club in May 2016, making two appearances for the Tangerines before his move to Stoke.

He made his Potters debut almost a year after joining the club before joining Fleetwood Town on loan, initially joining for half a season before then signing up for a full campaign with The Fishermen. He became a first-team regular for Stoke on his return in 2020 and is now considered one of their key players.

Souttar is an Australian international who made his debut in October 2019 and has gone on to make 14 appearances for his country, scoring six goals. He played four times for the Socceroos in the 2022 World Cup. The 6ft6 centre half is strong in the air, both in defence and attack, and has recently been linked with a move to Premier League Leicester City.

One to watch

Tyrese Campbell: Striker Campbell joined Stoke from Manchester City’s academy in 2016 at the age of 16. He made his debut for the club in a Premier League game against Leicester in 2018 and has gone on to make 120 appearances for the club, scoring 27 goals. Prior to fully breaking into the first team, Campbell spent half a season on loan at Shrewsbury Town.

He is the son of former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell and has represented England at under-17 and under-20 levels. Campbell is primarily a striker but can also play out wide and has a fast burst of pace. He has recently returned from a knee injury that kept him out for a year, but despite this has four goals to his name so far this season.