Stoke City: We must cope with the pressure, says Ryan Shotton
RYAN Shotton believes today's game against Southampton could be even tougher than Stoke's memorable Boxing Day win over Liverpool.
That's no disrespect to Brendan Rodgers's side, but Stoke kicked off against them as underdogs, a position which suited the Potters just fine.
They will be favourites to beat newly-promoted Southampton at the Britannia Stadium today (3pm), and that brings its own pressures.
Shotton, who is expected to return to the side in place of the suspended Geoff Cameron, isn't expecting an easy afternoon, even though Stoke are defending a 16-game unbeaten home record.
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He said: "We don't pay too much attention to records. The manager might say we are doing well, but he's also telling us we can't get carried away.
"Southampton won't be easy because we are expected to win; these are the toughest games because you can't underestimate anybody in this league."
Stoke must go into the game with only half the back line which started against Liverpool as Ryan Shawcross is also banned after picking up five bookings.
Matthew Upson will make his first league start of the season, but Shotton has been a more familiar presence of late.
He broke into the side when fellow right-back Andy Wilkinson was injured at West Ham, and was an important part of the team who conceded just one goal in the next four games.
He dropped out of the side after being controversially sent off at Aston Villa, but should return to a familiar right-back role today having been recalled to play in midfield in the goalless draw at Tottenham last week.
He said: "Tottenham was tricky. I played on the right wing, so it was a bit different for me. But I worked hard and gave what I could in the 60 minutes I was on.
"I can't complain because Wilko and Geoff have done terrifically well, but if I get the chance I'll step in and see what I can do.
"Whether it's left-back, right-back, up front or right wing, if I get a chance I'll work hard and give it all I can do."
There should be no lack of confidence in the Stoke ranks after the Boxing Day victory.
They still have the best defensive record in the league having conceded just 14 goals, but are no longer the equal lowest scorers.
They are now on 18 from their 19 games after two goals from Jon Walters and a Kenwyne Jones header helped them come from behind to claim a 3-1 win.
Shotton said: "We played some good football, which seemed to surprise some people. I don't know why because it's what we do.
"Maybe we hit the ball long to Kenwyne now and again, but he was terrific. I think he won every header against Liverpool."