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Ferguson braced for Stoke test

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is braced for the "challenge" that awaits on Sunday when his side travel to Stoke City.

• Blog: Worry sets in

United are looking to bounce back from Monday's derby defeat to Manchester City, which cut their lead at the top to 12 points.

Despite the setback, the Red Devils are still expected to secure the Premier League title - but Ferguson is wary of the task ahead at the Britannia Stadium.

"It's always a difficult place to go to," he said. "Ask any manager or player, you know you have to perform to get a result there. You have to stand up to the mark because they do present a challenge.

"They are strong physically, their set-piece play is good, their long throw-ins are legendary and I don't think you can quieten that crowd, it is probably one of the noisiest in the league.

"That is what we will face on Sunday and we have to deal with it."

Stoke are struggling at the wrong end of the table, with the club three points above the drop zone, but Ferguson is confident Tony Pulis' men will stave off relegation.

"They are in a precarious situation because you don't pick up a lot of points down the bottom of that league," he said.

"I think they'll get enough to get out. They have QPR next week and Norwich after that. That's a big opportunity for them to get the points they need."

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