Sunday 17 December 2017

Pulis plays waiting game over Spurs pair

Eleanor Crooks

Stoke boss Tony Pulis kept his transfer cards close to his chest as he prepared for tomorrow's Barclays Premier League opener against Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium.

Chairman Peter Coates confirmed this week the club have made what he described as their last bid for Tottenham pair Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios.

Pulis has made no secret of his desire to strengthen his squad further, with only defenders Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson brought in so far this summer.

A striker is at the top of his wish-list to help provide competition and back-up to Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters. But Pulis refused to comment on the bid for Crouch and Palacios, or rumours linking Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton with a move to the Potteries.

"What the chairman says, he says, but as far as I'm concerned deals should be done between clubs," said Pulis. "I think too much gets out now. We've been talking to other clubs about other players and that's the way, hopefully, we'll do our business. When it happens, it happens.

"We're looking for about five or six players, if we can. We could do desperately with getting those players in as quickly as possible but we have to do it within the club's structure."

Although Pulis has only made two signings so far, they have been eye-catching ones. Woodgate joined on a pay-as-you-play deal after an injury-ravaged spell at Tottenham, while England defender Upson came to the end of his deal with West Ham earlier this summer.

The pair will provide competition for regular centre-back partnership Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth, although Upson is not yet match fit.

"We think the two of them have a point to prove," Pulis said. "Jonathan has had enormous problems injury wise and he's desperate to get himself fit and play regular Premier League football again and play at the highest level he possible can.

"To do that he has to stay fit so we have to make sure we work very closely with Jonathan and keep him on track to play games. If we have to cut back on training or do specific work during the week then we'll do that.

"Matthew's record of playing games is fantastic. He didn't have the best of times at West Ham last year but, talking to him, he played a lot with injuries, so we're hoping to get him fit and he will push the other players at the football club along with Jonathan."

Woodgate made his competitive debut in the Europa League win over Hajduk Split last week and he is in contention for tomorrow's game. Pulis is also hopeful Matthew Etherington and Rory Delap will overcome niggles.

Meanwhile, the Potters boss believes football clubs can have a valuable role to play in helping strengthen communities following the riots that have affected cities across England.

"We'll be the same way we've always been. We're very closely linked with the community in lots of respects, and that's been one of our major strengths."

Stoke v Chelsea,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 1.30

Irish Independent

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