It must be quite a novel feeling for Tony Pulis as he juggles the task of trying to sign new players for the domestic campaign with the prospect of a big run in the Europa League, although the Welshman is clearly relishing the challenge.
Stoke managed a slender 1-0 win at the Britannia Stadium on Thursday and know that a goal in Croatia will mean that Hajduk Split have to score three times to go through, with goalscorer Matthew Etherington likely to be available.
The former West Ham winger suffered from a cracked rib sustained in the first leg, although Pulis told The Sentinel: “He’s got a little crack, that’s all, after running into someone in the first game. It was nothing malicious and it’s not a bad injury.”
Stoke are slight favourites at 11/8 (bet365 – £200 free bets) to claim victory in the second leg, although a draw (9/5 Ladbrokes) could be a better bet considering that the Potters don’t need to commit men forward – at least initially.
Even so, Pulis will want to get that away goal and build a cushion in the process, with Kenwyne Jones on offer at 11/2 with bet365 to score first and Jonathan Walters available at odds of 13/2 (Skybet).
Stoke are not known for playing an expansive style away from home and Under 2.5 Goals looks to be the call at 4/6 (Betfred – £50 free betting), with City’s European adventure likely to continue.