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Under the management of Michael O’Neill, Stoke City had a strong start to last season, hovering around the playoff spots at the half-way point, but their form quickly tailed off in the new year.
With just six victories from the 24 games after the turn of the year, the Potters eventually finished in 14th spot, although the season did end on a high with an impressive 2-0 win over sixth-placed AFC Bournemouth.
With O’Neill keeping the trust of the Stoke hierarchy and with a lot of the dead weight removed from the squad in the summer transfer window, this could be a big season for the Potters, who will be keen to sustain a push for the playoff’s after last season’s disappointment after the half-way mark.
On the whole, their pre-season campaign has put them in good shape, as O’Neill has overseen victories over Linfield, Crewe Alexandra and Aston Villa.
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While they did suffer a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of third-tier Wigan Athletic, the Potters bounced back with a commendable 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers in their final friendly, providing plenty of encouragement heading into the new campaign.
They have been handed a tough opening encounter, playing host to a Reading side who narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season.