Wilder still eyeing title victory

Sheffield United have been promoted to the Premier League and boss Chris Wilder has challenged his side to try and go up as Championship winners.

The Blades' return to the top-flight for the first time since the 2006-07 season was confirmed by the 1-1 draw between Leeds United and Aston Villa at Elland Road on Sunday.

However, Wilder appears unlikely to allow his players to slack off just yet, with United trailing Championship leaders Norwich City by three points with just one game left to play.

The Blades, though, have a better goal difference than the Canaries, meaning victory at Stoke City and a Norwich loss at Villa would see the Bramall Lane outfit go up as champions.

Wilder told reporters after the 2-0 win over Ipswich Town on Saturday: "We still have a game to play and we're going to try and win the Championship. That's how our mindset is. Who says we can't?

"Fourteen points over seven games at the back end of the season, with one defeat in 13 at the business end of the season, and people still question whether we are going to fall away.

"We've just kept our heads down and answered it in the right way, which is on the green bit."

The Blades have lost just one of their last 17 league games and they are 1/1 to win at Stoke next Sunday, with the draw priced at 12/5.

Meanwhile, Wilder's side are 7/2 to be crowned Championship champions next weekend.

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Dyche: Crouch retains hunger

Burnley manager Sean Dyche says that Peter Crouch still has the hunger to make an impact in the Premier League.

The striker turned 38 this week and in one of the more surprising deals in the January transfer window, he returned to the top flight after signing for Burnley from Stoke City.

The deal involves Clarets striker Sam Vokes going the other way and Dyche says the move suits both parties.

He said of Crouch: "He has a hunger to come and make a mark. We know he's a good character and he still has a desire. The main thing for me is having motivated people."

"It is difficult to let Sam go, but he hasn't played as regularly, it could become a win-win situation."

Crouch has made 462 appearances in the Premier League for six different clubs and was part of the Stoke squad that were relegated last season.

Meanwhile Vokes has been at Turf Moor since 2012 and has started 10 Premier League games so far this season but goes in search of regular first team football.

He has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with the Championship club who sit 15th in the table.

Potters boss Nathan Jones said of his new signing: "Sam is a player of real pedigree, he has been promoted from this level and he's an experienced international and Premier League player.

"To get it done is something totally different to anything we have and we think he's a marquee player for this level."

Crouch's new club Burnley are just a place above the Premier League relegation zone, though with a four-point cushion over third bottom Cardiff.

The Clarets, 11/5 to be relegated at the end of the season, face fellow strugglers Southampton at home on Saturday and are 6/4 for the win with the Saints 9/5 and the draw 9/4. Burnley are 15/2 to win the game 1-0.

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Jones relishes Potters chance

New Stoke City manager Nathan Jones hopes to be able to make a big impression with the Championship club, having been chosen to succeed Gary Rowett.

Jones admits he took a difficult decision to leave Luton Town, where he had been in charge for three years – having guided the Hatters to promotion to League One last season.

This term they are well on course to gain a second successive promotion, as they currently occupy the second automatic promotion place, behind Portsmouth.

And Jones has confirmed that he had previously turned down several offers from Championship clubs, but felt that his latest opportunity was the right one to take.

He told his new club's official website: "I have had other opportunities in the Championship before with numerous clubs, but none of those were of the stature and standing of Stoke City.

"This is a club with wonderful tradition, it has a Premier League structure in every regard, barring the league this year of course.

"I believe I am an appointment for the long-term here. I want to win games and I want to instil a culture and a philosophy that people are going to really get behind and be proud of.

"Along the way there will be some ups and downs, hopefully plenty of ups, but when we get our philosophy implemented and get working with the players, I'm sure they're going to respond."

Stoke currently stand in 14th place in the Championship table, eight points adrift of the play-off places.

They are next in action on Saturday when they head to Griffin Park to take on Brentford, with the Potters 2/1 to win the game and 9/4 to secure a draw.

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Mid-table Potters axe Rowett

Stoke City have terminated the contract of Gary Rowett just eight months after the 44-year-old was appointed manager at the us Stadium.

Rowett leaves the Potters, who were relegated from the Premier League last term, in the wake of the weekend FA Cup third-round draw against Shrewsbury Town.

Stoke are currently 14th in the Championship table, eight points adrift of the final play-off place and 13 points clear of the relegation zone.

A brief statement from the club said: "We would like to thank Gary and his staff for their efforts over the past eight months.

"A new managerial appointment will be made as swiftly as possible but in the meantime Rory Delap, Kevin Russell and Andy Quy will take charge of first-team affairs."

Rowett signed a three-year deal when he succeeded Paul Lambert as Stoke boss in May 2018.

The Potters had prised Rowett away from Derby County after he had led the Rams to the Championship play-offs, where they were beaten by Fulham.

Rowett began his managerial career in League Two at Burton Albion before leaving for Championship side Birmingham City in 2014.

He enjoyed some success at St Andrew's but was controversially axed by the Blues in December 2016 when they were challenging for a play-off spot and moved on to become Derby boss three months later.

Stoke, 14/1 to be promoted from the Championship this season, are 2/1 to beat Brentford in their next match on Saturday.

Rowett to field strong side

Stoke City boss Gary Rowett has promised to field a strong side against Shrewsbury Town after completing the permanent signings of Ryan Woods and Benik Afobe.

The two players had been on loan at the us Stadium since the summer and have impressed Rowett enough to make their moves from Brentford and Wolves respectively permanent.

Woods has 21 made Championship appearances for the Potters so far this season while Afobe has scored six goals in 26 matches.

Meanwhile, Rowett said of the FA Cup third-round clash against League One side Shrewsbury: "Due to the last few games we will go a little bit stronger than we normally would and I think that is only sensible.

"You have to take these games seriously and we will because we know that given our current situation Shrewsbury will see it as an opportunity to cause an upset.

"You try to find the balance with players who are hungry for an opportunity and players who will give you some control in the game.

"What I would say is that going into this weekend's cup game we will certainly try to have an eye on being a little bit stronger than I might normally do if we were sat at the top of the league."

Stoke, 14/1 to be promoted this term, are 21/20 to beat the Shrews.

Clement axed by ailing Royals

Championship strugglers Reading have sacked head coach Paul Clement, with the Royals having won just one of their last seven league games.

The 46-year-old former Derby County and Swansea City boss only took charge at the Madejski Stadium in March, helping the club avoid relegation to League One.

However, the Royals find themselves entrenched in another relegation dogfight this season, with Reading currently outside the bottom three on goal difference only.

A club statement confirmed: "Reading Football Club can announce that Paul Clement has left his position as manager of the club with immediate effect.

"CEO Nigel Howe will seek to swiftly identify and appoint a new manager who will fit the Reading mould, build a team which can deliver performances and results that will help us climb the Championship table and lead the club towards promotion in the future."

Clement had struck a positive note following a 2-2 weekend draw with Stoke City, telling reporters: "The concern is the position in the league, we are still not clear of it. My view is that if you string performances together, results will follow.

"You can't say we've played poorly in the last two games against Stoke and Leeds. Yes, we picked up one point, but we haven't played poorly.

"If you continue to play well results will follow, I'm convinced of that. That will be the objective."

Reading are priced at 1/1 to be relegated this season, with Rotherham United 11/8 and Hull City 4/1.

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Winless start frustrates Rowett

Gary Rowett has demanded a big improvement from his Stoke City players when the Potters take on Wigan Athletic on Wednesday.

Stoke had been one of the pre-season favourites to be promoted from the Championship this term but have failed to win any of their first three matches in the second tier.

Former Burton Albion, Birmingham City and Derby County boss Rowett admits he has been disappointed by his side's start to the campaign but believes there is enough quality in the squad to start climbing the table in the near future.

Stoke are currently available at 3/1 to be promoted this season and 6/5 to beat the Latics.

"My frustration is that after a disappointing season last season we wanted to give the fans some early positivity," said Rowett.

"I hope that over the summer they were enthused by what we were trying to do in terms of the signings we made and we wanted to hit the ground running. Whilst it's still very, very early days we haven't managed to do that yet.

"But the fact that they have shown up in such big numbers and the fact that they have been in such great voice regardless of how the games have panned out will only help us in the long term.

"What the team have got to do is give them something in return."

Bielsa desperate for good start

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa hopes he can give the club's fans the success they crave this season.

Leeds have not been in the Premier League since the disastrous 2003/04 campaign since when the West Yorkshire side have had three seasons languishing in League One.

The Whites are 7/2 to be promoted this season though while they are available at 9/5 to beat Stoke City in their first Championship match of the campaign on Sunday. The Potters are 11/8 to make an immediate return to the top-flight.

Bielsa said: "There is always tension when a competition begins. If there was no tension I would be worried. The first game is the first challenge where we can show what we can do.

"I'm pleased with all of the work we have done so far. My message to the players is always the same, we have to show our fans we are ambitious.

"We have to prove that the players are better than was shown last season and we will get conclusions once the competition begins.

"I was well received by the fans. Of course I feel a big responsibility and I hope I will be able to give the Leeds fans the answers they are expecting from me."

Wagner thanks departing Ince

David Wagner has thanked Tom Ince for his efforts during his time at Huddersfield Town after allowing the winger to join Stoke City.

The 26-year-old moves to the us Stadium for an initial £10million transfer fee, which could increase by a further £2million after add-ons.

Ince joined the Terriers last summer and played a key role in keeping the club in the Premier League. He scored three goals in all competitions for Wagner's team, including a crucial late winner against Watford.

Head coach Wagner said: "Incey has got a lot of game time for us in the last season and played a big role in helping us to achieve our aim of staying in the Premier League.

"The value of this deal made sense for us. Tom is a good player, but I am comfortable that we have good options in the wide positions.

"We would like to thank Tom for all his efforts and hard work in the last season and wish him the very best for the future."

Huddersfield are 6/5 to be relegated from the Premier League in 2018/19 and 5/1 to beat Chelsea in their first game of the campaign on 11th August. Meanwhile, Stoke City are available are 6/4 to be promoted from the Championship this term.

McClean eyes instant return

Republic of Ireland international James McClean is thrilled to be teaming up with Stoke City boss Gary Rowett at the us Stadium.

The 29-year-old has joined the Potters from West Brom, who were also relegated from the Premier League last season, in a £5million deal.

McClean, who has signed a four-year contract, is Stoke's fourth signing of the summer following the arrivals of Adam Federici, Benik Afobe and Oghenekaro Etebo.

He said: "I really do think that Stoke are well placed for the future and that was one of the key reasons behind my decision to come here.

"It's nice when you know that the manager rates you so highly and as soon as he got the job at Stoke he was looking to bring me here. It's up to me to repay the faith he's shown in me. I can't wait to get started."

McClean played for Sunderland and Wigan Athletic before signing for the Baggies three years ago in a £1.5million deal.

He found the net four times in 99 Premier League appearances for Albion in his three seasons at The Hawthorns.

Stoke City can be backed at 6/4 to be promoted from the Championship in 2018/19 while West Brom are available at 5/2 to go up.