Wagner braced for serious Stoke test

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David Wagner insists Stoke are the toughest Carabao Cup opponents Huddersfield could have hoped for, despite their difficult start to the season.

The Potters have found their return to the Sky Bet Championship a trickier proposition than many anticipated, but banked a first victory of the campaign at the fifth attempt at the weekend.

Wagner is still waiting for the same winning feeling after following up predictable defeats by Chelsea and Manchester City with Saturday’s stalemate against Cardiff.

And he does not expect things to get any easier.

“This is probably the most difficult draw we can face in the cup apart from the Premier League clubs,” he said.

“They have a lot of experience, very good players who have played at the highest level. It doesn’t change the fact that we would like to be successful against them.

“How far we can go (in the competition) is a question we should not ask ourselves, just how we can be successful in the next round against Stoke.

“We have to perform at our highest level with fresh legs and clear heads.”

Clarity of thought cannot, of course, be guaranteed but a fully fit starting XI is at Wagner’s disposal.

The German has at least 22 squad members at his disposal and could add former Stoke winger Ramadan Sobhi to that number if he shakes off a minor knee complaint.

Widespread changes, therefore, seem certain.

“Everyone knows since I arrived that I use rotation, if possible and if necessary,” he said.

“With three games in a week maybe it would be a good idea. Usually I love fresh legs in all competitions.

“I will not rule (Sobhi) out. He had a knock on his knee but without ligament problems. We have to see how quickly he settles down.”

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