Stoke City-Cardiff City Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)

Cardiff City will face a decisive moment in their battle to avoid relegation as they welcome Stoke City to the Welsh capital on Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff (7-8-19) are three points from safety with four games remaining, but a crucial 1-0 win at Southampton a week ago ended a run of four games without victory and kept their slim survival hopes alive.

Regardless of the club's fortunes in the remaining weeks of the season, Solskjaer has assured supporters that both he and the divisive Vincent Tan will still be at the club next season, and in the build-up to Saturday's game, the Norwegian spoke of his long-term plan for the Bluebirds.

"Football's all about opinions; People can disagree, as long as they don't work in the same club as me," said Solskjaer. "When we're in the same club, we've got to have one vision. In football, you're not better than your weakest link. I came in with a clear vision, and a clear understanding that I would run the football club. I don't think many managers would take a job and do it someone else's way.

"He (Tan) is very supportive of his manager. He knows that to get success, you need to trust your manager. He's backed the club with however many millions, and he's fantastic for Cardiff City."

Mark Hughes' Stoke City (12-4-8) are in excellent form, with five wins and a draw in their last seven games. However, the Potters are still not assured a top-half finish, and with Crystal Palace - managed by former Stoke boss Tony Pulis - hot on their heels, the players are keen to finish the season strongly.

"We want to finish as high as possible and pick up as many points as possible this season," said defender Marc Wilson. "Now we are edging closer to our best points total. That's what we've been saying all along. We want to try to push over that if possible.

"We've got four games left and they will all be difficult. We're taking on teams who are fighting to stay in the division. We can't take our foot off the gas now. We won't be slacking up. We have to be on the top of our game every weekend.

"Cardiff had a brilliant win at Southampton last weekend and they will be desperate for another three points."

The Bluebirds have injury doubts over Declan John (knock), Andrew Taylor (knock), Kenwyne Jones (kidney infection), Craig Noone (abdominals) and Mark Hudson (hamstring), while Stoke have concerns over the fitness of Matthew Etherington (back) and Robert Huth (knee).

It was a scoreless draw when these teams met at the Britannia back in December. There were 31 attempts on goal, but the teams landed just five on target.

Cardiff have not won any of their last five meetings with Stoke in all competitions and have failed to score in their last two against the Potters.