15:00 1st August 2014
A look at this weekend's opposition
STOKE CITY'S first team squad touched down back in England earlier this week following a hugely beneficial 12-day training camp in Southern Germany.
The Potters spent almost two weeks in the picturesque surroundings of Reit im Winkl, where they were put through their paces in training as well as undertaking three friendly encounters against strong opposition.
This weekend the side are back in action on these shores with two testing fixtures against Burton Albion and Blackburn Rovers.
The manager hasn't divulged information on which players will represent the Potters at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday or at Ewood Park on Sunday, with further games against Real Betis and Freiburg next week surely also coming into the consideration of the manager when deciding his players.
Up until Tuesday evening, BURTON ALBION had not conceded a goal since the first minute of their pre-season campaign as Gary Rowett looks to get the Brewers in shape for another League Two promotion push.
The Brewers started off with a 1-0 defeat at Ilkeston where Ian Sharps was harshly adjudged to have brought down Kane Richards in the box seconds after the game had begun.
Rob Duffy coolly slotted home for the Derbyshire non-leaguers, who hung on for a win against a Burton side including summer signings George Taft, John Mousinho, Stuart Beavon and the returning Callum McFadzean.
Albion's first home warm-up brought with it something of a surprise as they recorded a 4-0 win over Sheffield United, who themselves secured a creditable 2-1 victory over Fenerbahce on Thursday.
First half goals from Alex MacDonald, Lucas Akins and Dominic Knowles put our Staffordshire neighbours firmly in control against Nigel Clough's side and although the Blades sent out a stronger second half side in search of a cutting edge, triallist Louis Cutajar put the gloss on Albion's performance with a fourth goal late on.
Further victories then followed against Hednesford Town and Mickleover Sports, before Derby County visited the Pirelli on Tuesday.
The lower league side looked in control for periods of the game but were undone by Jeff Hendrick's 43rd minute header.
BLACKBURN ROVERS, meanwhile, began their pre-season with a thumping 4-0 triumph at Telford United, with Ruben Rochina bagging a brace with others goals coming from Leon Best and Jack O'Connell.
Boss Gary Bowyer split his squad with a different eleven for featuring for each half, similar to how Hughes approached City's games against both Borussia Monchengladbach and 1860 Munich.
Three consecutive draws have since followed for the Lancashire side, away at Accrington Stanley, Bradford City and Bury.
Rovers twice came from behind at Stanley with David Dunn and Tom Cairney both getting themselves on the score-sheet against James Beattie's side.
Sweltering conditions at Valley Parade then contributed to a goalless draw in their second game, along with two crucial saves from former England stopper Paul Robinson.
Ex-Crewe Alexandra man Luke Varney could have won it for Rovers in the final moments but he fired narrowly over from a tight angle.
Their latest friendly at Gigg Lane saw Jordan Rhodes open his pre-season account from the penalty spot after Daniel Nardiello had already put Bury into the lead.
Lee Williamson had already been sent off for Blackburn after an over-the-ball challenge on veteran striker Ryan Lowe.
*Admission to Burton Albion is through cash turnstile for supporters wishing to stand; tickets for seats are available from the Ticket Office. Cash turnstiles will also be in operation at Blackburn Rovers with supporters wishing to pay by card being advised to purchase tickets at the Darwen End Ticket Office.
Follow coverage of City's games against both Burton and Blackburn here on stokecityfc.com at The Wall, with photos, a report and reaction to follow afterwards.