Stoke City predicted starting XI vs Plymouth as Steven Schumacher weighs up old boys’ claims

Steven Schumacher will have been weighing up the merits of introducing fellow Plymouth old boys Luke Cundle and Niall Ennis to his Stoke City starting XI for a huge game against Argyle this weekend.

Schumacher, as manager, and Ennis, as striker, were helping Plymouth storm to the League One title and promotion to the Championship this time last year. Schumacher left for Stoke in December while Ennis arrived in the Potteries in January via half-a-season at Blackburn Rovers.

Cundle spent the first half of this season on loan at Home Park before returning to Wolves in January to be sent out to be reunited with Schumacher at the bet365 Stadium. He was immediately installed in the side and, although he has had to be patient for minutes since late February, he staked his claim last week with a well-taken and vital equaliser from the bench at Sheffield Wednesday.

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The personnel will depend on the system and whether Schumacher goes back to some variation on his favoured 4-3-3 or sticks with the 3-5-2 he used in the first half at Hillsborough. An improved second half last weekend, when Stoke flipped to a back four, would suggest that is favourite this time around.

Daniel Iversen is clear number one keeper and Michael Rose and Luke McNally seem to be in pole position as the pairing at centre-half, although Ben Wilmot returned to play 90 minutes at Wednesday. Enda Stevens has returned to fitness at left-back and Ki-Jana Hoever, although benched last time out, has been a regular at right-back.

It gets trickier to predict how Stoke will take shape in front of that. Wouter Burger has been passed fit and is likely to line up in midfield alongside captain Josh Laurent. Cundle, Jordan Thompson and Lewis Baker are the other options while Daniel Johnson has fallen out of the picture.

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