What Michael Appleton is expecting from Blackpool's clash against Stoke City

Michael Appleton says his Blackpool side must find a way to compete with Stoke City’s land of the giants.

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They face a tall and physical Stoke side according to Appleton, which will bring its own unique challenges.

“It’s tough opposition,” Pool’s head coach said.

“I’ve watched their game against Millwall and it was a frantic game. It was two sides going toe-to-toe with each other.

“Stoke are a very big side, a very physical side. I think as the lads are going through the tunnel there might be a “heigh-ho” as we walk through because we will look a little bit smaller to say the least!

“We’re going to have to compete first and foremost. If we don’t do that we will finish second best in the game, there’s no doubt about it.

The Seasiders take on Michael O'Neill's side at the bet365 Stadium this afternoon

“If we can get near them physicality wise then hopefully we can give them a good run for their money.

“It’s a tough place to go, the crowd get behind them and the atmosphere is fantastic, we just have to make sure after 70 minutes we’re still in the game and if we are, we’ve got some decent players who can affect that final period of the match.”

Despite Stoke’s aerial presence, both of the goals they conceded during their 2-0 defeat to Millwall last week came via set-pieces.

When asked if that surprised him, Appleton said: “A little bit, but it’s the first game of the season and you don’t take too much from what happens in pre-season.

“We haven’t watched too many of their games from pre-season, we’ve done a lot of focus on what happened last week.

“If we can pick up on one or two things which will benefit us and get the rewards Millwall did, then obviously we will be delighted.

“On the flipside, what tends to happen when you concede a goal or two from set-plays, you tend to be a bit more stringent during the week to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”