Stoke City were without manager Michael O’Neill on the touchline last week after he was recovering from a hip replacement operation.
Despite hoping to be in attendance for his side’s 1-0 victory over QPR last week, O’Neill couldn’t make it leaving him with a live stream from home and assistant manager Dean Holden standing in for him.
However, the Potters will be given a boost this weekend as their manager looks set to travel to Middlesbrough with the team.
Holden filled in for O’Neill at the pre-match press conference but told Stoke-on-Trent Live: “He’s [O’Neill] in good spirits.
“He’s been in this week, so we expect him to travel to Middlesbrough with us at the weekend, all being well.
“Having said that, I think he’ll be watching from the stand. But to have his presence with us will be fantastic. So yeah, he’s doing alright.”
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Having their manager back in the stadium with them will no doubt give the players a boost as they look to go and secure their third consecutive win against a tough side.
Boro will be a tough side to break down as they need a win to keep their play-off hopes alive but Holden feels it’s something to look forward to as he said: “So it’s an exciting game for us. It’s a brilliant stadium up there, fantastic pitch and, with everything to play for, we expect to go there in confidence ourselves as well and hoping to put on a good show.
“For us, we’re just looking to improve all the time. It’s as simple as that.
“Players have got everything to play for in terms of showing what they’re made of as individuals, trying to finish the season as high up the teal was we can and obviously with next season in mind as well.”
Although O’Neill won’t be well enough to take his place on the touchline yet, it’s good to see he should be well enough recovered to be in attendance at the game.
This will no doubt make it much easier for him to analyse and influence the game even if he does have to spend most of the time on the phone to those in the technical area.
Furthermore, the squad will likely feel a lift from having their manager back in the dressing room to give them their pre-match talk.
This will be a tough game for Stoke but having found some form in recent games, they will be looking to go and put on a good display.