Blackburn Rovers v Stoke City

Mark Hughes returns to Ewood Park in a tricky FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers.

He will be without a host of first team players, as he was on Wednesday when the Potters were beaten 4-1 by Manchester City.

Jon Walters could make a welcomed return to the squad after missing that defeat with a knee problem that has caused him problems throughout the season.

Captain Ryan Shawcross, Steven Ireland and Erik Pieters are out of this fixture but could return to face Aston Villa in a week’s time.

One confirmed change will see cup goalkeeper Jack Butland start with Asmir Begovic rested allowing Thomas Sorensen a spot on the bench.

Hughes told his press conference: “We are managing Jon – he is usually sore immediately after games, then after a couple of days it settles down and he is fine to play.

“But obviously playing three games in a week was a little bit too much to ask.

“Jack will come in and play, and I am more than happy to make that change because he has shown that he is another top class goalkeeper.

“We are blessed in that regard here, because in Asmir, Jack and Thomas I don’t think there are too many other better options in the Premier League.”

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Peter Crouch scoring when the sides last met.

The Welshmen spoke about the competition adding: “It is a competition we feel we have a realistic chance of winning.”And I think if we can overcome Blackburn, we can start thinking maybe and getting a little bit excited about where it might take us. But first and foremost we have to focus on this game against a good side.”

One positive for Stoke is that they have beat Blackburn on six of the eight occasions the sides met in the Premier League, drawing one and losing the other, which was Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge at Ewood Park in 2008.

Blackburn Rovers sit in ninth in the Championship and have defeated Charlton Athletic and Swansea City to reach this stage.

Rudy Gestede is knocking on the door for a start after his midweek winner against Rotherham while second choice keeper Simon Eastwood has deputised in this competition ahead of Jason Steele.

Gary Bowyer, who was at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday added: “I went and watched them against Manchester City and for the first half hour they totally dominated that game and 4-1 was very harsh on them.

“They’ll have a good following and the mentality of Mark Hughes and his staff is that they’ll be wanting to win this game to try and get themselves on a run to Wembley.”

He has called on the Rovers faithful to get behind their team: “On Tuesday against Rotherham the fans played a massive part and the players were saying that they were impressed with the way our supporters were.

“Stoke are going to be bringing a big following, we know they are noisy, so our supporters are have got to go and match that.”

Anthony Taylor takes charge of this match, which will be his third in charge of Stoke this season. He refereed the opening day defeat to Aston Villa while overseeing the Potters 3-2 win over Arsenal in December, where he sent off Calum Chambers.

He hasn’t been in charge of a Rovers game this season. The Cheshire official has dished out 95 yellow cards and four reds in all competitions. He will be assisted by Darren Cann and Scott Ledger.


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