Kelly plotting downfall of Potters
REPUBLIC of Ireland full-back Stephen Kelly will be cheering on international team-mates Jonathan Walters and Glenn Whelan during Stoke's Europa League clash with Valencia, but is plotting their downfall at Craven Cottage tomorrow.
With just three points separating Fulham and Stoke City, Kelly has described the Premier League encounter as a "massive game".
Prior to his arrival at Craven Cottage in July 2008, the 28-year-old Dubliner spent a four-month loan spell with the Potters and, although the visitors have won just one of their last eight league outings, he predicts a tough challenge lies ahead.
"I enjoyed my time at the Britannia," said Kelly. "It was Stoke's first season in the Premier League so it was a special period for them.
"I worked well with the players there and only have good things to say about the club.
"The manager (Tony Pulis) has his style of football, and it's not too dissimilar to how Roy Hodgson had us set up in my first season at Craven Cottage, in the sense that they are well drilled and organised. It might not be the prettiest, but it works for them.
"They've gone a long way in that time too, reaching the FA Cup Final last season, and as a result they are enjoying a decent run in Europe -- like we did a few years back."
Stoke are currently fighting it out on three fronts, with a Europa League last 32 tie sandwiched between tomorrow's visit to the Cottage and next weekend's FA Cup Fifth Round match at Crawley Town.
"When you see how far they have gone in Europe, our exit in the same competition really hits home because we should be competing in Europe too," admitted Kelly. "We know that we should have done better.
"I'll watch them in action on Thursday, and, of course, there will be a strong sense of what could have been. Unfortunately, things didn't work out how we had hoped, but I wish Stoke all the best. That said, on Saturday, it's all about three points for Fulham."