Spurs travel to Stoke City on Saturday hoping to keep their faint Champions League hopes alive

Stephen Ireland has thrived since being reunited with former boss Mark Hughes at Stoke. Picture: Action Images

Stephen Ireland has thrived since being reunited with former boss Mark Hughes at Stoke. Picture: Action Images

First published in Sport
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Spurs travel to Stoke City on Saturday looking to keep their faint Champions League hopes alive with a win over the Potters.

Tottenham are seven points behind North London rivals Arsenal who occupy the last Champions League spot, whilst fifth-place Everton hold a six-point lead over Spurs with just three games left.

Under the guidance of Mark Hughes, Stoke will be looking to finish an impressive season on a high.

It has been a season of transition for the Potters, who currently sit tenth in the Premier League playing a more expansive brand of football than they had become known for.

The departure of Tony Pulis last summer provided the Potters with an opportunity to change the style of football at the Britannia Stadium and former Wales, Blackburn, Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers boss Hughes has gradually achieved that.

Central to Hughes' plans has been former Manchester City, Aston Villa and Newcastle United midfielder Stephen Ireland.

The 27-year-old former Republic of Ireland international spent the first half of the season on loan at the Potteries before making his loan deal permanent during the January transfer window.

Ireland's best form until now came under Hughes at Manchester City during the infancy of City's transition from also-rans to an elite club.

A move to Aston Villa never quite worked out for the creative midfielder and a short stint on loan at Newcastle saw Ireland make just two substitute appearances for the Magpies.

Offically 'retired' from international football after falsely claiming the death of two of his grandmothers to avoid being called up after his partner had suffered a miscarriage.

Peter Odemwingie is another to have impressed since his January transfer window move from Cardiff City.

The Nigerian international - born in Russia - signed for the Potters in a swap deal for Kenwyne Jones and has scored four in his first 12 for City.

Odemwinge, 32, had only joined Cardiff City in the summer, but made just 11 Premier League starts following a £2.25m switch from West Bromwich Albion.

It was at Albion where Odemwingie made his name in this country, scoring 30 league goals in 67 starts before falling out of favour following a much-publicised attemtp to force through a move to Queens Park Rangers in January 2013.

The attempted move to Loftus Road failed and Odemwingie returned to the Hawthorns to find himself an outcast.

Defensive duo Michael Dawson (hamstring) is fit to return for Spurs. Etienne Capoue, who has resumed training this week, is not ready to make his first-team return.

Kyle Walker (groin), Jan Vertonghen (ankle) and Erik Lamela (back) are out.

Stoke will be without Erik Pieters (illness), Matty Etherington (back) and Robert Huth (knee).

 

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