Thursday 18 January 2018

Pulis says Ireland international Walters has ‘British bulldog spirit’

Phil Medlicott

STOKE boss Tony Pulis has sung the praises of Ireland star Jon Walters after his two goals were vital in setting up another FA Cup meeting with Manchester City after his side came through their third-round replay against Crystal Palace with a 4-1 extra-time win.

Having failed to convert a penalty in the first half when Jermaine Easter's effort was saved by Thomas Sorensen, npower Championship outfit Palace forced the additional period at the Britannia Stadium thanks to Glenn Murray's successful 87th-minute spot-kick, which cancelled out Kenwyne Jones' 69th-minute header for the hosts.

Walters, bouncing back in style from his nightmare performance in the 4-0 Barclays Premier League loss to Chelsea three days earlier, restored Stoke's lead five minutes into extra-time and slotted in his second with 10 minutes remaining, before Cameron Jerome wrapped up the victory in the 120th minute.

The Potters now face a fourth-round home clash on January 26 with City, the club they were beaten by in the 2011 final.

And looking ahead to that contest, Pulis - whose team were eliminated in the quarter-finals last year - said: "It is a great tie for us.

"I'm delighted we have got through and have the opportunity again to play Man City, which is always an honour for us as a football club.

"We have only lost two in 13 FA Cup games and it would be lovely to make it two in 14."

Pulis had been planning to rest Walters for the Palace match, but decided after the Chelsea defeat - in which the forward scored two own-goals and missed a penalty - that he would provide him with the opportunity to quickly make amends.

Having seen Walters do exactly that against Palace, the manager spoke of the 29-year-old's "British bulldog spirit".

Asked about the England-born Republic of Ireland international, Pulis said: "I wasn't going to play Jon (against Palace) - I had decided on Friday that I would give him a rest.

"But then after what had happened on Saturday, I decided the best thing to do was to get him out there again.

"And scoring the goals and playing the way he played, I think it's just great for him. It will wash away what happened on Saturday.

"He gives everything, Jon. He is just a very gifted individual in lots of respects, and his biggest asset is his big strong heart and the British bulldog spirit he has got."

Palace boss Ian Holloway also had praise for Walters.

"I think Tony has done a fantastic job," Holloway said.

"I think his team are honest, hard-working and never stop, and Jon Walters just sums all that up for me."

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