Michael O'Neil's five key quotes prior to Rotherham clash
Michael O'Neil during Stoke's encounter against Birmingham City on the 4th October 2020 ((Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images).

Stoke City will look to build on their decent start to the season when they face Rotherham United at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday.

The Potters sit 10th in the Championship after picking up 12 points from eight games and they currently are only two points adrift of the play-off spots, while also being only four points behind the automatic promotion places.

On the injury concerns

Ahead of the game, Michael O'Neil spoke of the players that potentially will not be available to feature against the Millers when he said: "We have a few injury concerns. Obviously, Adam Davies will miss out.

"We have extreme doubts about James Chester, Nathan Collins, Sam Clucas and the longer-term ones of Joe Allen and Ryan Shawcross, who are both back in training at some level, but still not at the level where we would consider them to be ready for this game."

When commenting on a possible reason for why the club have so many current injuries under their ranks, O'Neil said "The timeframe in terms of recovery and the time for them to come back from injury is less because the games come around quicker.

"The workload on the players is very demanding so with that we are going to pick up more injuries than normal."

"We are not different than any club in the league from that perspective and we just have to deal with it."

The former Northern Ireland manager continued: "It was a tough week last week. A lot of games and the games are very difficult.

"They are very tense so we just have to manage the sport with the situation we are in at the minute and we continue to do that."

"We plan well ahead in terms of training and the management of the training to try to make sure we stay as strong as possible."

On the unavailability of Davies

After regular goalkeeper, Adam Davies, was forced off at half time at Swansea City on Tuesday, O'Neil revealed that he would be experiencing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

"He has got a medial knee ligament injury, sort of estimated timeframe could be four to eight weeks, so hopefully it is the lesser amount."

Embed from Getty Images

"At this minute in time he has gone for a scan, his knee is immobilised and we just hope he makes it a speedy recovery, but he certainly is going to be out for the next few weeks at least and probably a little bit longer."

O'Neil further went on to speak about how much of a setback this would personally be for the goalkeeper who spent a lot of his first season at the club on the bench.

"He has done very well since coming into the team at the tail end of last season and starting this season as the number one."

“He has faced a different challenge now with Angus (Gunn) coming to the club, and it is unfortunate for the timing for him having just established himself and now finding himself on the sidelines."

“We are lucky that we have Angus to come in and hopefully he makes a speedy recovery and have that competition for places going forward."

On Gunn as a replacement

Gunn came in originally as a back-up to Davies on deadline day on loan from Southampton, a club in which he has made 30 appearances for and when commenting on how he thinks the 24-year-old will fare at the club, O’Neil acknowledged that he has done well at whatever club he has been at

Angus has great pedigree. He spent his formative years at Manchester City, he had a very successful season in the Championship with Norwich when he played every game."

Embed from Getty Images

"He knows what is required in this league and how to be successful in this league."

“He has come here after at times a difficult spell at Southampton, who had three senior goalkeepers so that situation was difficult for him."

"But this is an opportunity for him. He probably did not expect to start so soon, but the opportunity has presented itself and it is down to him now."

On looking to bounce back from Swansea defeat.

In their last outing on Tuesday night, the Potters suffered only their second loss of the season at the hands of Swansea thanks to strikes by Jay Fulton and Kasey Palmer.

Consequently, following this defeat O’Neil revealed that it is vital that his team now earn three points as quickly as possible.

We lost a game, nothing more than that. The reality of the Championship is that it is going to happen in a 46-game season."

"The most important thing is how you react to that and that you get back to winning ways as soon as possible. We did that after losing the game against Bristol City."

“It was a tough game for us mid-week and we did not take anything out of it. Now we have to address that and try to get on another little run and keep gathering points. That is the nature of the league it is very tight as you can see.”

He continued: “Had we won the game (against Swansea) we would have been second and we don’t and we are ninth or tenth. So it is still in the very early phase of the season and teams are adapting and settling down."

“But it is important to address once you have had a defeat to try your utmost to try to win your next game, and that is certainly our intention tomorrow.”

On what to expect from Rotherham

Finally, when analysing his side's opponents on Saturday, O’Neil said: “They are a promoted team, so you do not expect them to come up and take to it very easily.

Embed from Getty Images

“I think it is a very tough game. They had a very good result in mid-week."

"I know when you have this scenario; the players who come up have a real point to prove. For many of the players, it will be their first opportunity to play in the Championship as well."

"We will play against a very hungry team, a team that likes to press and make life difficult for the opposition."

"We have been through that in the last couple of days with the players so it will be a tough game, as all the games have been to date so far.”