MICHAEL KIGHTLY was handed his first start in almost two months against Liverpool in front of the live television cameras on Boxing Day . . . with Ryan Shotton making way for the former Wolves winger.
Kightly’s inclusion in the starting eleven proved to be the only change to the side that secured a superb goalless draw with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane four days earlier.
The change meant that Republic of Ireland international Jonathan Walters moved into a more central role, behind lone striker Kenwyne Jones.
Kightly started on the right hand side of midfield, alongside Glenn Whelan, Steven Nzonzi and Matthew Etherington.
The backline, which has kept nine clean sheets in 17 Premier League games, consisted of Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Robert Huth, Ryan Shawcross and Andy Wilkinson.
There was no place in the match-day squad for former Liverpool star Michael Owen, however, Charlie Adam was named on the substitutes bench after returning to training this week following the sad death of his father.
STOKE CITY: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross (C), Huth, Wilkinson; Kightly, Whelan, Nzonzi, Etherington; Walters, Jones. Substitutes: Sorensen, Upson, Shotton, Whitehead, Adam, Jerome, Crouch.
LIVERPOOL: Reina; Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique; Downing, Shelvey, Gerrard (c), Lucas, Suso; Suarez. Substitutes: Jones, Cole, Henderson, Coates, Carragher, Allen, Sterling.