The second international break of the season has perhaps come at the wrong time for Stoke City, who finally picked up their first league win of the Championship campaign at the weekend.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Potters have made a catastrophic start to the season, and they sit rock bottom of the league table after 11 league games, having picked up just five points thus far.
The pressure has been piling on manager Nathan Jones of late, but many feel that their win against high-flying Swansea City at the weekend could be a turning point in their season.
Despite going 1-0 down after one minute at the Liberty Stadium through Andre Ayew, the players proved that they are still playing for their manager, responding almost straight away through Sam Clucas.
Then, right at the death, Stoke finally picked up their first elusive win of the season in the most dramatic fashion, with Scott Hogan netting in stoppage-time.
At one point, it looked as if Hogan wouldn’t even get a game at the weekend – via Stoke Sentinel, Jones admitted that Hogan wasn’t set to feature for the Potters, before a brief conversation with his sports scientist changed his mind.
It was clearly a let-off for Jones and for Stoke, but he cannot afford to make the same mistake again.
Hogan has enjoyed a reasonably impressive start to life at the bet365 Stadium since arriving on loan from Aston Villa – the 27-year-old has made three Championship starts for the Potters, scoring three goals thus far.
After a massively disappointing time at Aston Villa, as well as an underwhelming loan spell at Sheffield United last term, Hogan’s confidence was bound to be low before his move to Stoke, but he seems to be thriving in Jones’ system.
Lee Gregory has been a regular for Stoke in the early stages of the season, and alongside Hogan up top against Derby, they helped Stoke claim their first point of the season two months ago.
Gregory is also very useful in the air, too, so Gregory also thrives off that, with his main strengths being his ability to run in behind and play on the shoulder of the defence.
The pair offer really clever movement and energy up top, and when given the service, Hogan takes his chances – he’s a natural finisher.
After his goal at Swansea, his confidence is bound to be sky-high heading into the home clash with Fulham, and he’s got to return to the starting line-up against the Cottagers in less than two weeks’ time.
They have plenty of exciting options up top, but a strike duo of Gregory and Hogan could prove to be a lethal concoction.
Should Hogan start for Stoke?