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Alex Neil

Neil: Concentrate on those we have available.

Stoke City manager Alex Neil believes his team must concentrate on the players that are available for Saturday’s trip to Championship leaders Leicester City.

Neil’s side finished Tuesday night’s game against Southampton with eight first-team players out after Ben Wilmot and Ki-Jana Hoever were injured and replaced in the second half.

While admitting the difficulty that awaits his team, Potters manager Potters has urged his players to build on their recent performances in the penultimate match of a seven-game run in 21 days.

stoke 1
stoke 1

“We need to make sure we don’t get side-tracked with who is unavailable,” Neil said. “We have to concentrate on the lads who are available and try to get the best outcome for everyone who is present.”

“When you’re tested, you learn things about players that you didn’t know before.”

“The trip to Bournemouth really started that off as it was really good for the group to spend a bit of time together and I think you have seen that togetherness in the last couple of games.”

City go to the King Power Stadium to face a Leicester City side that has won nine of their first 10 Championship games since being relegated from the Premier League.

stoke 3
stoke 3

Neil, who saw Leicester City’s 3-0 win over Preston North End on Wednesday night, believes the Potters will need to be strict in their approach while still posing a challenge to their hosts if they are to return to ST4 with a win.

Leicester have started the season really well, particularly on their own patch,” he stated.

“It will be difficult, but I have watched other matches where teams have gone there, been in the game, and had chances.”

“It’s a matter of ensuring that, when they have the ball, we have a good defensive structure but also a balance to carry a threat going the other way.”

“The first goal is critical because if we can get it, it gives us something to fight for the rest of the game and see the game out.”

“Naturally, if they get the first goal it is about how aggressive we go to try and turn it back quickly because they have talented players who exploit space.”

Alex Neil
Alex Neil

This weekend, City will be backed by a sell-out crowd of 3,300 travelling supporters, following a sell-out crowd of over 1,700 Potters cheering the Potters on to a stunning comeback victory at Bristol City the last time out on the road.

Neil also stated that the fans’ connection and gratitude for the squad’s efforts was evident on Tuesday’s return to the bet365 Stadium against Southampton.

“The second-half at Bristol and the last game [against Southampton], everything you would want in terms of effort and endeavour from the players was there in abundance,” Neil stated.

“We had some good moments in the Southampton game, and the fact that a lot of our fans stayed back and expressed their appreciation to the players for what they put into the game was a really nice touch, given that we didn’t win.”

“It shows that they understand how much we are all trying to get the results and I don’t think any of the passion that you would want as a fan is in question.”

NICK POWELL
NICK POWELL

While he prefers not to focus on the injuries that are now hampering first-team player availability, Neil believes the October international break, which follows Saturday’s game, will be beneficial to his squad.

“The break comes at a good time because we need to get some of our players back to give us a better chance of winning matches and being more competitive because, obviously, the stronger squad you have, the better chance you have to win games,” he said.

“There are some critical areas where we are significantly light right now, especially after a few injuries.”

“Sometimes you need a mental break to get ready for the next batch.”

“This particular set of games has been testing with going to Bournemouth and Bristol, having Southampton here and then going to Leicester too.”

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