Stoke v Brighton preview: Jurgen Locadia set for Seagulls debut
Last Updated: 10/02/18 2:22pm
Brighton's £14m record signing Jurgen Locadia is set to make his long-awaited debut in Saturday's crunch clash at relegation rivals Stoke City.
Dutch forward Locadia arrived from PSV Eindhoven during last month's transfer window having scored 45 goals in 127 league appearances for the Eredivisie leaders, including nine this campaign. but was carrying a hamstring injury.
Brighton manager Chris Hughton confirmed the 24-year-old has returned to fitness and will be included in his squad at the bet365 Stadium as the south coast club attempt to boost their Premier League survival hopes.
"He obviously hasn't been involved in any games, U23 games or so, but he will have completed a good week and a half of training going into the game so certainly he'll be in the squad," said Hughton, whose 13th-placed team are three points ahead of 18th-in-the-table Stoke.
"We know where he is at the moment, he has been out for a period of time. Some players can fit straight back in after that period, some take just that little bit longer.
Meanwhile, Stoke boss Paul Lambert saw an encouraging debut last weekend from midfielder Badou Ndiaye.
The Potters were beaten 2-1 by Bournemouth, the first loss Lambert had suffered since starting the job, though the performance of midfielder Ndiaye greatly pleased the Scot.
Senegal international Ndiaye was a £14m acquisition from Galatasaray on transfer deadline day.
"I thought he was excellent," Lambert said of Ndiaye's debut. "He was on for 60-odd minutes and for a lad who had only come in on Friday and didn't know anyone's name as such, he fitted in brilliantly.
"A week's full training will have done him the world of good. His performance was first class and he will only get better.
Stoke will begin the weekend in the relegation zone, but would move level on points with Brighton if they defeat the Seagulls.
Jese Rodriguez will return to the Stoke squad for the first time in two months when Brighton visit the bet365 Stadium.
The on-loan Paris Saint Germain forward, who was granted time off to be with his prematurely-born son, has not been available since he was disciplined for leaving the stadium as an unused substitute against Swansea on December 2 after then-boss Mark Hughes had made all three changes.
Defender Bruno Martins Indi has trained all week following a knock so could come back into contention.
Brighton, meanwhile, have close to a fully-fit squad with injured midfielders Steve Sidwell and Jiri Skalak their only absentees.
- Stoke are unbeaten in their last 16 home games against Brighton in all competitions (W9 D7 L0), since losing 1-0 in a second tier match in September 1961
- Brighton haven't scored a single goal in any of their last four visits to the bet365 Stadium, since a Lee Steele goal in a 3-1 defeat in March 2002
- The Potters have alternated between not winning and winning in their last seven Premier League home games (W3 D1 L3), drawing last time out against Watford
- The Seagulls have scored fewer away goals than any other Premier League side this season (6), with half of those coming in one game (3-0 vs West Ham)
- Stoke have won seven of their last nine home Premier League games against newly promoted sides (L2), but have already lost one such match this season (vs Newcastle on January 1st)
- Brighton have shipped a league-high 12 goals from corner situations in the Premier League this season, while only Arsenal and Bournemouth (8 each) have scored more in this fashion than Stoke (7)
Stoke had a good win and then drew with Watford, and that was a bad result for me. People look at it and think it's not too bad, another clean sheet, but following that up with a defeat means you're back in a bit of trouble. It was a bad result for Stoke to lose at Bournemouth.
Brighton struggle away from home. I thought they played well at Southampton the other week, but sat back when they went in front and I think they'll do that again, whether they're leading or not.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (8/1 with SkyBet)
Stoke are Sky Bet's 23/20 favourites, with Brighton 13/5, while the draw is an 11/5 shot. The Potters are, however, also shorter odds in the more alarming market, relegation betting, priced at 6/5 to their visitors' odds of 3/1 to go down. Mame Biram Diouf and Peter Crouch share favouritism in the wide-open first goalscorer betting at 5/1 apiece, with Murray and Ulloa both 6/1 to net first.
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