Kemp wary of Blackburn
Assistant manager Dave Kemp is anticipating a stiff test at Ewood Park as Stoke aim to build on one of the greatest years in their history with a winning start to 2012.
The Potters reached their maiden FA Cup final in 2011, which in turn led to a first European campaign in almost four decades. A mouthwatering last-32 tie against Valencia awaits when the Europa League resumes in February but first Stoke must seek to consolidate their top-half place in the league.
And while Monday's opponents Blackburn are currently entrenched in the relegation zone, Steve Kean's men will begin the new year on a high following their stunning 3-2 victory over Manchester United on Saturday. Ahead of Stoke's journey to Lancashire, Kemp said: "It was always going to be a tough game, as they all are, and it will obviously boost their confidence."
He added: "They have had a good holiday period, getting a point at Liverpool and winning at Old Trafford, but it's up to us to go there and deal with it. We'll rest ourselves up, get ourselves ready and make sure we're ready to go."
One man who will hope to gain a start against Blackburn is forward Cameron Jerome, who made a significant impact after coming off the bench in the 2-2 draw with Wigan on Saturday.
Jerome won the penalty that led to Stoke's equaliser - and the sending off of Gary Caldwell - and then grabbed his first goal for the club, only for Wigan to then level themselves through Ben Watson's 87th-minute spot-kick.
"He made the impact we wanted, he caused some problems and obviously the goal was a bonus," said Kemp.
"Unfortunately he had a similar opportunity (in the closing minutes) and had a heavy touch that took it away from him, or he may have scored another one."
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