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Premier League Preview: Stoke City - Hull City

Goal.com
Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes won the double together 20 years ago, but that must seem a distant memory as they prepare to meet Saturday.

Hull City manager Bruce was captain and Stoke City counterpart Hughes scored when Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley to secure the first league and cup double in the club's history back in 1994.

Bruce will be back at Wembley next month when his side faces Sheffield United in the semifinal of this season's FA Cup, as he strives to win the famous trophy for the first time as a manager.

But his immediate attention will be getting the better of his former team-mate in the Premier League encounter at the Britannia Stadium. Bruce has openly said in the past that he and Hughes have "a mutual respect, but it's not right to say we're pals".

Both managers will expect their players to ensure that the soccer does the talking Saturday, with in-form Stoke going in search of a third consecutive victory.

Hughes' charges secured an impressive 4-1 win at Aston Villa on Sunday to leapfrog Paul Lambert's side into 10th place. That was only their second away victory of the season in the Premier League and Stoke will fancy its chances of picking up another three points, given that Liverpool and Norwich City are the only sides to have beaten the team in its own backyard in the top flight this term.

Stoke has suffered just one defeat in their last eight games — a 1-0 loss at title-chasing Manchester City — and has won three of its last four matches. Hull's last win at Stoke came back in January 2006, but it has drawn 1-1 in three of its last four trips to the Staffordshire club.

Bruce will be looking to build momentum ahead of the trip to Wembley as his players attempt to cement their place in the starting lineup for the clash with Nigel Clough's League One side. But they will need to bounce back from their midweek Premier League disappointment against West Ham, when they lost 2-1 in controversial circumstances.

Mark Noble scored from a hotly debated penalty and, although Hull equalized when Tom Huddlestone's free kick went in off Nikica Jelavic, a James Chester own goal consigned the visitors to defeat. And that loss also came at a cost, with goalkeeper Allan McGregor suffering a serious kidney injury in an incident that saw him sent off for the penalty.

McGregor would have been suspended for this clash anyway, but he now looks set for a spell on the sidelines regardless, with Bruce confirming: "Unfortunately he's in a bad way, he's certainly got kidney damage. The specialist is on his way to see him. He's got contusion of his kidney, which we are hoping is not ruptured, but it looks a nasty one at the minute."

Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam, meanwhile, comes back into contention after serving a three-match ban, but Jonathan Walters sits out the final game of his suspension. Stephen Ireland is also available after being ineligible to face Villa, but Oussama Assaidi is a doubt and Robert Huth (knee) is definitely out.

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