Stoke City take on Millwall at The Den with only three points separating the two clubs in the Championship table. Both sides will be looking to get back into play-off contention with Stoke being knocked off sixth place, only on goal difference, after a 1-0 loss to unbeaten Bournemouth in their last match.
Michael O’Neill’s side have lost their previous two games since the end of the international break, including their first home loss of the season on Tuesday night. But they have looked like solid contenders for a promotion spot with their new system of playing out from the back.
Millwall on the other hand, are looking to climb back up the table after a 2-0 defeat to Luton Town ended their seven-game unbeaten run in the Championship. But they bounced back with a 2-1 win against Sheffield United in their last match at Bramall Lane with Jake Cooper scoring a last-minute winner.
Gary Rowett faces his old club under a great run of form, winning three out of their last four games in the Championship. His team are currently three points off Huddersfield Town, who occupy that final play-off spot, and after a somewhat shaky start, they’re starting to shine in the league.
Millwall have two players missing for Saturday's encounter.
George Saville is suspended after his red card in their last match against Sheffield United and Benik Afobe is on loan from Stoke City and isn’t eligible to play against his parent club.
As for The Potters, they picked up two new injuries against Bournemouth; Sam Clucas will be out for two weeks and Nick Powell is expected to be on the sidelines for six to eight weeks after he cracked his tibula in a collision with midfielder Jefferson Lerma.
Tashan Oakley-Boothe is still playing with the U23s after recovering from a back fracture, setting him back since April 2021.
Morgan Fox is still out with a hamstring injury.
Bialkowski; Ballard, Hutchinson, Cooper; Leonard, Evans, Kieftenbeld, Malone; Wallace, Bradshaw, Ojo
Stoke City (3-4-1-2)
Davies; Wilmot, Souttar, Chester; Smith, Allen, Thompson, Tymon; Vrancic; Brown, Surridge
Ones to watch
Ojo arrived at Millwall in the summer with a point to prove, after a few unsuccessful loan spells at Wolves, Reims and Rangers. He looked to have a new lease of life at Cardiff City until Mick McCarthy came in and his presence diminished as McCarthy adopted a more defensive approach.
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill already described Ojo as ‘a threat’ for Saturday’s encounter when speaking in his pre-match press conference and you can understand why. The Liverpool loanee has only made five appearances since he joined Millwall on his seventh loan move away from Anfield, but he’s started to retrace that form he showed in his previous spell at Cardiff City, looking like a constant threat in their last match at Bramall Lane.
Nick Powell’s long-term injury is a blow for Stoke as he is The Potters' top scorer and has been a talismanic figure in their midfield. But for the next six to eight weeks his number ten spot in midfield will most likely be taken up by Mario Vrancic.
Vrancic, like Powell, is another creative midfielder with a deadly set piece and incredible passing. He’s already become a key part of Stoke’s midfield with a goal and three assists so far this season after his free transfer from Norwich City in the summer. His switch of play and ability to get out of tight spaces should cause problems for Gary Rowett’s defence on Saturday.
Millwall 2-0 Stoke, 26th October 2019.
The last time a crowd was at this fixture was in October 2019, where Millwall were 2-0 victors with goals from Ben Thompson and Jed Wallace making sure Stoke stayed winless at The Den since their relegation three years ago.
The final whistle signified a brand-new era at Stoke with Nathan Jones taking charge of his final Stoke match. He was sacked six days later and replaced by current manager Michael O’Neill, who has finally got his Stoke City team to a level where he expects them to be after three unconvincing seasons in the second tier of English Football.
The Potters last won at the Den in August 2005 when Johan Boskamp earned his first victory as Stoke manager thanks to a John Halls winner.
The match kicks off at 3pm on Saturday 23rd October.
Fans abroad will be able to pay £10 for StokeCity+'s livestream of the game on the club website.