PREVIEW: Stoke City vs. Millwall

GARY Rowett faces his ex-side Stoke as Millwall aim for the double over the Potters this season.

Rowett’s first game in charge of Millwall was against Stoke in October when goals from Ben Thompson and a Jed Wallace penalty sealed a 2-0 win.

Stoke had just two wins in their first 14 league games and Nathan Jones was sacked five days after that defeat.

Since Michael O’Neill took over they have won five of their 11 Championship fixtures, including beating Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 and Huddersfield 5-2 either side of a 1-0 defeat to Fulham in their last three games.

Rowett is relieved to have a full week to prepare the squad after a hectic Christmas and New Year schedule.

“It’ll be nice to have a period of time when you can start to plan a little bit better in terms of the training schedule. At the moment it’s almost just been recover, prepare, and not much in between,” Rowett said.

“It allows one or two players a couple of days to get over little niggles. One or two missed out on the FA Cup game so hopefully they’ll be in better shape.

“I think Stoke have gone back to their basic principles. They have a bit more shape to their team and have been getting the ball into forward areas quicker.

“They’ve had mixed results but their results have picked up and they have a bit more stability now.

“They’ve got good players in their team, and you have to look at Stoke as if you’re playing a top-six side away from home. It’ll be a difficult place to go.

“But if you look at our last four away games we’ll certainly have absolutely no fear. We’ll go there and see if we can put on another big performance.”

Lee Gregory has had an inconsistent season since leaving the Lions to join Stoke last summer.

Gregory – who was top-scorer in four of his five seasons with Millwall – didn’t score in his first eight games for his new side.

He has scored four goals in 23 appearances in all competitions this season, and his a player Rowett has known about for some time.

Lee Gregory playing for Millwall against his current club

Rowett said: “I watched a lot of him in his early days at Halifax when [Jamie] Vardy was in that same team and Marc Roberts. Halifax had quite a few good players.

“He’s a player that I know all about though I don’t think he’s a player we ever came close to signing or anything. He’s a good player.”

Millwall are without midfielders Ryan Leonard and Ben Thompson. Goalkeeper Frank Fielding could return to the match-day for the first time since the opening day after he played for the under-23s against Colchester on Monday.

Rowett could revert to the 5-2-3 formation he has favoured away from home recently, as the Lions protect a four-match unbeaten record on the road.

Possible Millwall team: 5-2-3: Bilakowski; Romeo, Hutchinson, Pearce, Cooper, M Wallace; Molumby, Williams; J Wallace, Bradshaw, O’Brien.

Match odds: Stoke EVS Draw 21/10 Millwall 13/5

Last meeting: October 26: Championship: Millwall 2-0 Stoke (Thompson 28, Wallace 75 pen)

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly