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Since Paul Heckingbottom was appointed Sheffield United manager in November, no team in the Championship has picked up more points than the Blades (38).
However, the Yorkshire outfit are faltering for the first time under the 44-year-old, having won just two of their last six matches. They are also winless in their last four games away from home.
A 2-0 victory over Barnsley before the international break, courtesy of goals from Sander Berge and Morgan Gibbs-White, moved the Blades back into the top six and Heckingbottom will hope for no more slip ups as his side aim to secure a place in the end of season lottery.
With home games against Queens Park Rangers (eighth) and Bournemouth (second) to come over the next week, it is vital that Sheffield United give themselves a platform to build on at the bet365 Stadium.
The Blades came from behind and scored twice in the last 10 minutes as they won 2-1 in the reverse fixture at Bramall Lane earlier in the season. It was their first victory in four meetings with Stoke since 2007.
The Potters were in the playoffs themselves on that October afternoon, but their top-six hopes are now all but over after a slump in form since the turn of the year.
A 2-0 win over Millwall before the international break was their first win in victory in nine matches; they have not claimed back-to-back wins since November 20.
Serious questions are being asked of Michael O’Neill and the future of the former Northern Ireland boss appears in doubt ahead of the summer.
Stoke will still be without injured trio Harry Souttar, Nick Powell and Jaden Philogene-Bidace for this fixture.
After over three months on the sidelines with a groin problem, Abdallah Sima made his return to the matchday squad against Millwall before the international break so will be hoping to get some minutes.
Lewis Baker has netted seven goals in 14 appearances since signing from Chelsea in January and is already Stoke’s second-highest scorer this season.
Sheffield United will be boosted by the return of George Baldock, who has missed the last five matches due to a knee issue.
Billy Sharp was forced off against Barnsley before the international break with a hamstring problem and is “touch and go” according to Paul Heckingbottom.
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The Blades remain short on centre-backs with Chris Basham and Charlie Goode still out, while Ben Davies has returned to training.
Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Bonham; Wilmot, Jagielka, Harwood-Bellis, Tymon; Vrancic, Baker, Allen; Brown, Maja, Campbell
Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Foderingham; Robinson, Gordon, Egan; Baldock, Hourihane, Norwood, Berge, Stevens; Gibbs-White, McBurnie