Preview: Stoke City v Sunderland

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Despite being so early in the season, the Premier League encounter between Stoke and Sunderland at Bet365 Stadium on Saturday could have serious ramifications in the race to avoid relegation.

With no wins, three draws and four losses, Mark Hughes is a manager under pressure at the Potters.

Hughes has made no secret of his attempt to bring a more cultured approach to Stoke's style of play. However, he believes that referees are punishing his side for their previous reputation as a physical outfit.

He told reporters: "Maybe referees feel they need to give Stoke players early yellow cards to calm the Stoke players down and make it easier for them to referee. You'd have to ask referees."

Meanwhile, Sunderland manager David Moyes is dealing with an injury crisis that is affecting at least nine first team players

The Black Cats are also mired in a relegation battle after having picked up just two points in their opening seven league matches.

Already without the injured Vito Mannone, Seb Larsson, Jan Kirchhoff, Adnan Januzaj and Fabio Borini, Moyes' team have also confirmed that Lee Cattermole and Steven Pienaar are also unavailable.

In addition, there are doubts about Jason Denayer and Lamine Kone, who will be assessed before Saturday's game.

The Scotsman told the media ahead of this weekend's contest, "It's a problem that we're getting injuries because we don't have a strong enough squad to cope with our better players being out of the team."