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Stoke City v AFC Bournemouth: Crouch ready to lead revival

Peter Crouch is hoping to make his first Premier League start of the season when struggling Stoke City welcome AFC Bournemouth to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

Former England striker Crouch has struggled to overcome the effects of groin surgery during the early weeks of the campaign, but scored Stoke’s winner in their midweek League Cup clash with Fulham.

And the experienced forward feels fit and ready to try and help Mark Hughes’ side pick up their first Premier League win of 2015-16 after a start that has seen them draw three and lose three.

Crouch told The Sentinel: “The Fulham game was my first 90 minutes for a long time and I felt great. I just hope to turn that performance into games and goals in the league.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being back involved and hopefully I’ve given the manager something to think about.

“I felt great right until the last kick and I managed to get on the scoresheet as well. Hopefully, now I’m full of confidence and feeling good, I can take that into the Premier League.”

Stoke boss Hughes should have further attacking options at his disposal this weekend with Peter Odemwingie proving his fitness by completing 84 minutes at Craven Cottage, while midfielder Charlie Adam returns from suspension.

Bojan Krkic should also feature having made his first start since January in last week’s 2-2 draw with Leicester City, but it remains to be seen whether Mame Biram Diouf will overcome hamstring and groin problems in time to make the squad.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, will head north in buoyant mood having lost just one of their last six games in all competitions.

Manager Eddie Howe, however, was keen to stress that his side won’t be underestimating the winless hosts.

“I’ve reviewed Stoke’s games and I’ve been impressed,” he said. “They certainly don’t look like a team that hasn’t won yet.

“Our performance against Sunderland was good, but we’ll prepare for Stoke on an individual basis. We are not at the stage where we can start to group games together. We want points from every game.”

Howe made nine changes to his side for their midweek League Cup tie at Preston North End, which Bournemouth won on penalties following a 2-2 draw.

Sylvain Distin is once more set to deputise for skipper Tommy Elphick, who is struggling to overcome an ankle injury, and Steve Cook is expected to partner the Frenchman at centre-back.

Tyrone Mings and Max Gradel are both long-term absentees due to serious knee injuries, and Harry Arter (groin) is also out.

Thu 24 Sep, 2015
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