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Whelan desperate for success against former club

Ireland international hoping Potters can make last four for first time since 1972.
Dec 1st 2015, 4:09 PM 8,592 3

Updated 18.55

STOKE CITY VICE-CAPTAIN Glenn Whelan says getting former club Sheffield Wednesday in the quarter-final of the Capital One Cup was a “dream draw” ahead of tonight’s encounter at the Britannia Stadium.

Whelan, who captained Ireland through last month’s Euro 2016 play-off success against Bosnia-Herzegovina, spent four seasons at Hillsborough before moving to Stoke in 2008.

“For me, this was the dream draw,” the 31-year-old Dubliner told match-day publication #pottersmag.

“I was hoping to get Sheffield Wednesday for personal reasons, which are obvious.

“I had a really enjoyable part of my career over in Sheffield so to be able to come up against them now at this stage of the competition is exciting.

“We had a really successful time together with winning promotion through the play-offs and other memorable occasions too.”

Whelan will start from the bench against the Owls – with Jon Walters picked to captain Mark Hughes’ side – possibly due to him playing every minute of Premier League action for the Potters to date this season.

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The midfielder captained the side in the absence of Ryan Shawcross earlier this campaign while the centre-back recovered from back surgery and Whelan received praise for his performances.

Ireland international goalkeeper Shay Given misses out with a knee injury so the in-form Jack Butland starts in nets.

Whelan clearly has great fondness for his former club but he is desperate for his side to prevail tonight with the Potters looking to reach the last four of the competition for the first time since lifting the trophy in 1972.

It’s a massive opportunity for us, and one that we are absolutely determined not to allow to pass us by.

“We know it isn’t going to be easy – they are having a good season and have already shown their quality by beating Newcastle United and more recently Arsenal, 3-0.

“I know a few people at the club still, their goalkeeper Keiren Westwood from international duty, but more so people behind the scenes.”

Whelan, Shawcross and fellow Ireland internationals Walters and Marc Wilson suffered heartbreak for Stoke in 2011 when losing the FA Cup final to Manchester City and that is something they are desperate to put right.

And he sees success in the Capital One Cup as the perfect way to do that.

“We haven’t had it (a cup win) for a long time,” he admitted. “We were really close in the FA Cup and didn’t manage to get across the line, so if we can do it in this cup that would be great.”

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