Preview: Stoke City vs. Hull City

Peter Crouch (C) of Stoke celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match against Aston Villa on March 23, 2014
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Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Stoke and Hull at the Britannia Stadium as the two teams look for the final points which will secure their safety.

Stoke City welcome Hull City to the Britannia Stadium this Saturday having all but secured their Premier League status for next season with victory last weekend.

The Potters overcame an early deficit at Aston Villa to win 4-1, with Peter Odemwingie, Peter Crouch, Steven N'Zonzi and Geoff Cameron all on the scoresheet.

The result took them into the top half of the table and sent them 12 points clear of the drop zone.

A run of just one defeat in eight games has propelled Mark Hughes's side clear of relegation trouble, but their next opponents, Hull, probably feel that they need a couple more wins to feel completely safe.

A goal from Shane Long against his former club West Bromwich Albion helped the Tigers to a 2-0 win at the KC Stadium last week, which lifted them eight points clear of the bottom three.

While that is a healthy margin, Steve Bruce will be keen to guarantee survival as soon as possible so that his team can focus on their FA Cup semi-final with Sheffield United on April 13.

Hull are awaiting news on Allan McGregor, who spent the night in hospital after suffering kidney damage in the collision with Mohamed Diame, which saw him sent off in the 2-1 defeat to West Ham United.

Steve Harper will deputise in goal in what could be an otherwise unchanged side from the one that battled valiantly with 10 men at the Boleyn Ground, although Sone Aluko is in contention for a start.

Hughes could also stick with the majority of the XI that performed so well at Villa Park, as the Potters attempt to finish the highest of the Midlands clubs for the first time in the Premier League era.

The one change the Welshman could be forced into making would be at left-back, where Erik Pieters is nursing a knock and is a doubt, meaning that Marc Muniesa or Andy Wilkinson may be recalled.

Charlie Adam and Stephen Ireland are both available after being suspended and ineligible respectively for the win last Saturday, but Jonathan Walters serves the last of a three-game suspension.

Recent form



Possible starting lineups

Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Muniesa; N'Zonzi, Whelan, Adam, Arnautovic, Odemwingie; Crouch

Hull: Harper; Rosenior, Chester, Davies, Figueroa, Elmohamady; Huddlestone, Livermore, Meyler; Jelavic, Long

Sports Mole says: 1-1

Marko Arnautovic of Stoke City beats Kevin Nolan, James Tomkins and Guy Demel of West Ham United to score their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and West Ham United at Britannia Stadium on March 15, 2014
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