2018-19 Championship preview: Stoke City

NEWSATDEN looks at all of Millwall’s 23 opponents in the 2018-19 Championship season.

Next up, Lucas Ball runs the rule over relegated Stoke.

Name: Stoke City

Nickname: The Potters

Manager: Gary Rowett

Stadium: bet365 Stadium [30,089]

Postcode: ST4 4EG

Club website:  www.stokecityfc.com

Nearest train station: Stoke-on-Trent/Longton

Match-day directions: footballgroundguide

Pre-season promotion odds (Sky Bet): 13/8

Last meeting: FA Cup – Stoke City 2-0 Millwall [Marvin Elliott own goal 82', Ricardo Fuller 87']; January 5, 2007

Last season: 19th in the Premier League

Goals for: 35

Goals against: 68

Top league goal scorer: Xherdan Shaqiri (8)

First-team 2018-19 transfers

Ins: Benik Afobe [£13.5 million from Wolves]; Tom Ince [£11.2 million from Huddersfield]; Oghenekaro Etebo [£7.2 million from Feirense]; James McClean [£5.6 million from West Brom]; Adam Federici [undisclosed from Bournemouth]; Ashley Williams [loan from Everton]

Outs: Xherdan Shaqiri [£14.7 million to Liverpool]; Ramadan Sobhi [£6.5 million to Huddersfield]; Marc Muniesa [£5 million to Girona]; Lee Grant [£1.7 million to Manchester United]; Kevin Wimmer [loan to Hannover]; Glen Johnson; Stephen Ireland [both released]

Stoke will be hoping for an immediate return to the top flight after the disappointment of relegation last year, though they got off to a disappointing start with a 3-1 defeat at Leeds.

After Paul Lambert left the club, then-Derby boss Gary Rowett was approached to take over at the bet365 Stadium, opting to leave the Rams for a chance to manage the Potters.

A couple of key men have moved on since then, including Xherdan Shaqiri to Liverpool, but fans will be optimistic for this season having signed the likes of Benik Afobe on loan just days after his move to Wolves.

Tom Ince has consistently been an excellent player at this level, and a lot will rest on his shoulders. James McClean, signed from West Brom, also has plenty of experience and will be looking to provide the assists.

Much is expected of Oghenekaro Etebo too, after the Nigerian midfielder looked a good prospect when he played in the World Cup in Russia this summer.

Prediction: Automatic promotion

Having kept hold of most of last season's squad, Rowett will be confident of winning promotion.

Peter Crouch offers something different as well as having loads of experience, though the former England international has been linked with a move away.

Afobe has got a decent record in the second tier, and that looks set to continue with the likes of McClean providing service to the former Millwall loanee this season.

Stoke City vs. Millwall – Saturday 22 December, 2018 [Kick-off: 3pm]

Millwall vs. Stoke City – Saturday 27 April, 2019 [Kick-off: 3pm]

Image: Stoke City FC