Alex Neil protected his key men for Stoke City trip; Matt Jarvis pushing for Potters recall

Seb Bassong was withdrawn early against Manchester City for the Premier League battles ahead. Pictur

Seb Bassong was withdrawn early against Manchester City for the Premier League battles ahead. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil confirmed the second-half departures of Seb Bassong and Jonny Howson were part of his preparations for a Premier League double header this week.

Both will have key roles at Stoke and Bournemouth with Bassong an ever-present under Neil this season and Howson forcing his way back into the starting line-up over recent weeks. Neil revealed after his side's 3-0 FA Cup third round defeat to Manchester City fit-again midfielder Matt Jarvis is also pushing to be involved against the Potters.

'I hope so. He has been joining in all week so I am confident he will be in and about the squad for Wednesday,' said Neil. 'Matt was probably not quite ready (for Manchester City), but it was more the fact we decided not to take a risk with him. We have waited nine or 10 weeks to get him fit and we don't want him to break down at the final hurdle. It was more precautionary.

'We brought Seb and Jonny off but there were no injury concerns at all. It was just to try and keep them as fresh as we can for the games coming up. Seb, in particular, has not really had a break. He has been taking part in every game for us so just in this game, when it was dead, it was important to get him off.'

Neil made seven changes to his starting line-up from the 1-0 Premier League win over Southampton.

'I thought Andre Wisdom did well. He had a really solid game,' said the City boss. 'I thought John (Ruddy) made some good saves. Other than that, Cameron (Jerome) did pretty well up top, Jonny (Howson) and Vadis (Odjidja) did okay as well. We had a couple of decent performances but as a team it wasn't enough. It is always hard to pick players out after a poor defeat. The damage was done in the first half. We tried to move the ball out from the back and go and play but if your quality is not good enough on the day then it will cause you problems.'

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