Odemwingie to return for Stoke

The Russian-born forward, who joined Stoke from Cardiff at the beginning of last year, has not played since rupturing knee ligaments against Manchester City in August.

But after returning to full training earlier this month, the Nigeria international will start Saturday???s game on the bench, according to Stoke boss Mark Hughes.

“He’s doing really well and is on schedule,” he said. “He’s not in a position to start games yet, but he’s been able to train for a full 90 minutes for two weeks now.

???He’s ready, and he’s an option if we need him to do 20, 25 minutes for us in a game. I told him today of my plans and – as you’d expect – I was met with a big, wide smile. He’s desperate to play.

???It’s a big thing for him and a big thing for the rest of the squad too. We’ve been judging him on his levels from before the injury and his stats are better now than they were before, so we are delighted to see him back.”

Stoke are enjoying a fine season under Hughes and need just one more victory to set a new club record for the highest number of Premier League wins.

But Saturday???s opponents are fighting to retain their Premier League status and were brought back down to earth after the derby win over Newcastle when they were beaten 4-1 by Crystal Palace last weekend.

Hughes has sympathy for Sunderland counterpart Dick Advocaat, who has lost two of first three games since taking the reins at the Stadium of Light last month.

“It’s not easy to come in and try to have an impact on players who have had a period of struggle,??? Hughes said.

???You’ve got to get your message across quickly and try to get results quickly. It looked like that might happen with their result against Newcastle but they had a big setback last time out.

???I’m not oblivious to talk that they’ve looked at different systems and formations, so it will be interesting to see how they line up against us, both in personnel and formation. It’s been quite an unknown from our point of view and difficult to plan for.

???But they need results and quickly, so they might target this game as one they can win. We will have plenty to say about that.”

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