Preston North End host a Stoke side splashing out as they eye top flight return

Stoke splashing out as they eye top flight return Stoke City pay their first visit to Preston for more than 10 years on Saturday, arriving at Deepdale as the big spenders in the Championship.
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The Potters haven’t been shy in splashing the cash as they bid to make it back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Benik Afobe, Tom Ince, Sam Clucas, James McClean, Etebo Oghenekaro, Ashley Williams and Adam Federici arrived for a big outlay.

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Afobe, a scorer in their first two games, is technically on loan from Wolves but Stoke are committed to buying him in January.

Stoke City's Benik AfobeStoke City's Benik Afobe
Stoke City's Benik Afobe

There have been a couple of notable sales to help balance the books, Xherdan Shaqiri going to Liverpool for £13m and Ramadan Sobhi sold to Huddersfield for £5m.

But the Potters don’t seem in a mood to hang around, this their first time in this division since 2008.

On the pitch, Stoke have yet to click into gear.

They were beaten 3-1 at Leeds on the opening day of the season, then held to a 1-1 draw by Brentford last week.

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In charge at Stoke is Gary Rowett, lured from Derby in May for £2m compensation.

He’s managed the Rams and Birmingham at Deepdale in past seasons, PNE manager Alex Neil looking forward to welcoming him.

“I’ve been against Gary’s teams numerous times,” said Neil ahead of the Saturday teatime kick-off (5.30pm).

“His sides tend to be 4-4-2 without the ball and when they have the ball they roll the striker up and have three in the middle of the park.

“We will be ready for what Stoke do formation-wise.

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“The one thing we can’t get away from is the fact they have good players.

“Gary will be hoping his good players can stand-up and perform for him.

“What I’ll say is that we aren’t scared of anyone.

“Whoever we play, we will always be ready.

“Last Saturday we went to Swansea and went toe-to-toe with them, Swansea also a side who were just down from the Premier League.

“Talking afterwards to their staff, even they felt we could have got something from the game.”

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While much attention has been on the new arrivals at Stoke, the Potteries outfit kept hold of some of their big names, in particular Joe Allen, Ryan Shawcross, Peter Crouch and Jack Butland.

It was expected that keeper Butland would be on the move in a bid to protect his place in the England squad – he went to the World Cup as understudy for Jordan Pickford.

Butland has stayed around and thinks Stoke might take a bit of time to settle into life in the Championship.

“You have got to fight that little bit better and defend better in the Championship,” said Butland.

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“Teams will cause you problems. We’ve got to be more ruthless and hopefully that is something we pick up on really quickly.”

Rowett hasn’t liked what he’s seen so far.

The Potters boss said: “We have to wake up and we have to wake up very quickly.”