Saturday 18 November 2017

Sorensen to lead by example for Wembley date

Eleanor Crooks

Thomas Sorensen will use his position as one of the most experienced players in the Stoke side to make sure his team-mates do not let the occasion of a Wembley visit affect them when they meet Bolton in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final.

The Danish goalkeeper has never previously played at the stadium but he can draw on two trips to World Cup finals as well as plenty of big games in his 13 years in England.

Sunday's clash will be Stoke's first FA Cup semi-final for 39 years and, having moved closer to securing Premier League safety in the four weeks since beating West Ham in the last eight, Sorensen is determined the story will not end this weekend.

Manager Tony Pulis took his players down to Wembley last Monday to give them a taste of what it will be like, and Sorensen said: "The semi-final for me is only a step towards the final. That has to be the emphasis this week.

"A lot is made of it, going to Wembley and all that, but at the end of the day the winners on Sunday don't get a trophy so that should be in our minds.

"It shouldn't be a day out. I'm going to do my best to be an experienced player and try to pass that on because it's not the end."

Stoke have finished on the losing side in each of their three previous appearances in the semi-finals, but Sorensen knows the draw, which also pitted Manchester United against Manchester City, has presented them with a great opportunity this time around.

Bolton, who last reached the FA Cup final in 1958, sit five points and four places above their rivals in eighth place in the Premier League table but recent results offer little indication of who might come out on top.

Both teams have won their home games this season while their previous Premier League clashes have resulted in two victories for Bolton, one for Stoke and one draw.

Sorensen added: "It's a fantastic chance for everyone. We could have had United or City, which on paper would have been a harder game. I don't think you'll ever get a bigger chance of reaching the final and you need to make the most of it."

There is no doubt Saturday's Manchester derby is the glamour tie of the round, with Stoke and Bolton two of the less fashionable sides in the top flight.

The Potters in particular have earned a reputation as a physical team who rely on set-pieces, while Bolton are still portrayed in some quarters as long-ball specialists.

Sorensen shrugged off the criticism, saying: "Let's go and surprise people. There's obviously different ways of playing football and as long as we're successful I'm not really that bothered.

"Bolton are at a similar stage to us.

"We've definitely changed since we came into the Premier League and under Owen Coyle Bolton have changed.

"We still have a great option with Kenwyne Jones and John Carew, and they have Kevin Davies, which they use from time to time and with great success -- and why throw that away?

"We've added to it and I think Bolton have as well."

Irish Independent

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