Jose Mourinho is confident his absence from the Britannia Stadium will not affect his Chelsea side as they attempt to halt their disastrous run of Premier League form at Stoke City.
The Chelsea manager will be missing while he serves a one-match stadium ban imposed following his clash with referee Jon Moss during the Blues' recent defeat at London rivals West Ham United.
That loss increased the pressure on the Portuguese boss although the midweek Champions League victory over Dynamo Kiev brought some respite for Mourinho, whose position has been placed under intense scrutiny.
The Kiev win came after Mourinho and Chelsea captain John Terry were forced to deny reports the manager had lost the backing of his squad.
Mourinho will hope his players once again demonstrate their support by clinching victory over Mark Hughes’ side and ending a run of one win in the last five domestic league games that has left the reigning Premier League
champions languishing in 15th place.
"I think they (the players) will know I am with them," said Mourinho. "They know I am going to prepare the team until the moment they go to the game.
"They know that during the game the action of the manager is not so crucial and I think the fact they know why I am not on the bench is also important for the group."
Mourinho maintains his side’s performances are improving but with the club in its current position, results are all that matter and the relief felt after Willian’s late free-kick secured victory over Kiev was tangible.
And the Brazil midfielder echoed his manager’s view, insisting that belief within the squad growing stronger.
"Confidence is coming for us and the results are coming as well. We have to keep going and keep fighting on the pitch," Willian said.
"“We lost some games and it’s been difficult for us but we are trying to play better. We know we have to improve more and keep going in the same way."
- Butland faith -Mourinho’s team selection at Stoke will be closely scrutinised following the manager’s decision to drop Eden Hazard to the bench against Kiev..
The Belgium playmaker appeared shortly before Willian’s winning goal but may not have done enough to force his way back into the starting line-up.
Saturday's game marks a return for Mourinho’s side to the scene of their English League Cup exit, where the holders were beaten on penalties last month to miss out on a place in the quarter-finals.
Jack Butland saved the decisive spot-kick from Hazard to take Stoke through and manager Hughes –- a former Chelsea striker –- believes the England international has proved the ideal replacement following Asmir Begovic's move to Stamford Bridge.
Begovic left Stoke to join Chelsea in pre-season, vindicating Hughes’s decision to promote Butland, 22, and give him a run of first-team games in May.
"I think it helped towards the end of last season when we weren’t quite sure what Asmir’s thinking was and what his intention was, so it was important that I showed Jack I trusted him," said Hughes.
"When a player of the ability of Asmir leaves your club there’s a danger that there is a huge void that can’t be filled or you haven’t got the means to fill it. Thankfully with Jack being in the building it wasn’t a problem," the manager added.
"He’s showing a high level of performance week-in, week-out and he’s going to get better. I think we all feel that.”
Defender Geoff Cameron is fit again after missing Stoke's last two games with a thigh injury sustained in a defeat by Watford –- the Potters’ only loss in eight games.