Bolton and Stoke will be looking to consolidate their position in the top 10 of the Premier League when they meet on Saturday.
Both sides have belied their status as lesser-lights in the top flight, surging into the top half of the competition with some consistent performances in the first half of the season.
With a game in hand, 10th-place Stoke are just six points outside of the top six, but such is the evenness of the Premier League this season that Tony Pulis’s side remain only seven points clear of West Ham at the bottom of the table.
And Pulis is well aware of the significance of the match as he prepares to welcome the Trotters to Britannia Stadium.
“You only have to take one look at the Premier League table to realise that this will be another tough game for us,” Pulis said.
“Bolton have had a fantastic season, but we owe them one because they have got the better of us in recent meetings by snatching some late, late goals.”
“We need to produce another big performance and as ever we need the supporters right behind us. It will certainly a big lift to the players to have that additional backing.”
Stoke have one of the shortest injury lists in the Premier League, with only Mali striker Mamady Sidibe unavailable for Saturday’s match.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle, on the other hand, has no such luxury, with Stuart Holden, Gretar Steinsson, Ricardo Gardner, Joey O’Brien, Sean Davis and JLloyd Samuel all sidelined with injury, while Chung-Yong Lee is away on Asian Cup duty with South Korea.
Another concern for Coyle is that Bolton’s form has begun to slide in recent weeks with the Trotters winless in their last three Premier League matches.
They struggled past non-league side York City in the FA Cup at the weekend, with regular starters Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander coming off the bench to score in the last 10 minutes.
Last time the teams met Ivan Klasnic scored in injury time as Bolton won 2-1, beginning a run of four straight losses for Stoke.
Pulis will be hoping a win this time around can spark another streak, this time a winning one.