Stoke City v Swansea City: Guidolin feels talk over future can wait
Francesco Guidolin insisted that Swansea City’s Premier League survival is more important than any discussions over his own future ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stoke City.
The 60-year-old has been linked with taking over as Italy boss after Euro 2016 - when Antonio Conte will depart the Azzurri – with speculation suggesting Brendan Rodgers could in turn return as boss at the Liberty Stadium.
But while he would like to stay, Guidolin is only focused on getting the points necessary to avoid the drop.
“Yes, this is for sure [I want to stay], but we can speak about it next week or at another moment because the most important thing is to help our team right now.
“I can say the most important thing is Swansea is safe in the Premier League and then, after, we can see. If I have the possibility to work here in the future, I would be very happy. I am proud and happy. But I don’t know.
“I think Stoke are a good team, they are having a good season and an important season and Mark Hughes.
“They have some players who are very good like [Xherdan] Shaqiri, [Ibrahim] Afellay, [Marko] Arnautovic, so it will be a difficult match, but I trust in my team and my players and I hope to see a good team Saturday.”
Three wins in four games have put Swansea 10 points clear of the drop-zone and on the brink of safety, but Stoke are unbeaten in the last four Premier League meetings between the sides at the Britannia Stadium, winning three.
Guidolin’s men have only recorded one clean sheet in their last 16 away league games, while Mark Hughes’ men have picked up 13 points from a possible 18 to sit eighth and remain in contention to reach Europe.
Stoke will be depleted against Swansea, though. Goalkeeper Jack Butland’s ankle injury on England duty means he will be replaced by either Shay Given or Jakob Haugaard, while key defenders Ryan Shawcross (back) and Glen Johnson (knee) are also doubts.
Further up field, Xherdan Shaqiri (thigh) will be assessed, while Jon Walters (knee) is out. For the visitors, Andrew Ayew (ankle) is missing and Leon Britton’s heel will be checked prior to the match.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries, especially at the back,” the hosts’ chairman Peter Coates told the Stoke Sentinel.
“Ryan hasn’t played so many games this season and now, to cap it all, we lose our goalkeeper last weekend playing for his country.
“It is a challenging run-in for us, that’s certainly one way of putting it. It is testing the strength of our squad, but events also provide an opportunity for others now. People look at Joselu, for instance, and we hope that situation develops.
“If we finish in the top half of the table we will be doing well, but obviously we want to go as high as we can.”
Key Opta stats:
- Marko Arnautovic has scored three times in his last three matches at the Britannia Stadium for the Potters.
- Bafetimbi Gomis has found the net just once in his last 24 Premier League games.
- Ryan Shawcross could make his 250th Premier League appearance in this match, becoming the first Stoke player to achieve that milestone.
- Stoke have scored 199 goals in the Premier League at the Britannia Stadium.
- Ashley Williams is one of four outfield players to have played every minute this season (2790). The others are Andrew Surman, Toby Alderweireld and Wes Morgan.